DEAR SUN SPOTS: Where do the words for closed captions come from?

“Printing out Reno” when what was said was “We know,” and for “Philippines” as “fill peeps”?

— No name, Waterford.

ANSWER: According to Media Access Group, which pioneered closed captioning in 1972, real-time captioning — like for a news broadcast — “couples the skills of a stenographer with computer technology. Stenographers type words as they are spoken, producing captions which are broadcast simultaneously with the live program.”

In other words, a stenographer listens to the live broadcast and types words as he or she hears them, which must be very difficult. Particularly if the broadcaster is not speaking clearly or there is background noise. That could explain some of the odd stuff we see scroll along the bottom of the screen.

The process is also frequently used at large conferences, in physical locations and online, to enable hearing impaired to participate.


Closed captioning on scheduled broadcasts is different. Those scripts are read and fed into a computer as part of the original production, and embedded in the television signal — becoming visible as you watch. Same for captioning in a movie theater or other media, like DVDs.

The captions that are recorded as part of production are much more accurate, and more easily corrected when mistakes are made.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Mexico High School Class of 1977 will hold the 40th high school class reunion on Aug. 5. We are missing addresses for the following classmates: Stephanie Dupree Benedix, Barbara Lowell, Ruth Jordan White and Joe Radcliff. 

Please contact Terry Richard at

DEAR SUN SPOTS: YWCA Central Maine is hosting a rummage sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 10, and is in search of donations.

Those can include jewelry, costume jewelry, handbags, accessories, holiday and home decorations, antiques, furniture such as tables and chairs (no upholstered furniture), household items such as dishes and bakeware, small appliances, children and baby items, toys, games and books, gardening items and sports equipment such as bikes, balls, etc.


The YWCA will not accept electronics, including televisions, clothing, shoes, textbooks or skis. All items must be in good working condition and new or gently used.

Donations are being accepted now and can be brought to the YWCA at 130 East Ave. in Lewiston.

All proceeds will benefit the YWCA Summer Camp program, including field trips and educational experiences for youth served. For more information please call the YWCA at 795-4050.

— Natalie Bornstein, Social Justice and Advocacy Manager, YWCA

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am looking for a Mary Driscoll who was originally from Lewiston, but lived for a time in Boston, specifically in 1963. She would be about 74 years old now, and may have a different surname. 

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone knows how I can reach her.

Thank you.

— Lyn, no town

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