Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design


Howard, Tharon W

Committee Member

Duchowski , Andrew

Committee Member

Greenstein , Joel

Committee Member

Hilligoss , Susan


This project is an interdisciplinary empirical study that explores the emotional experiences resulting from the use of the assistive technology closed captioning. More specifically, this study focuses on documenting the user experiences of both the D/deaf and Hearing multimedia user in an effort to better identify and understand those variables and processes that are involved with facilitating and supporting connotative and emotional meaning making. There is an ever present gap that defines closed captioning studies thus far, and this gap is defined by the emphasis on understanding and measuring denotative meaning making behavior while largely ignoring connotative meaning making behavior that is necessarily an equal participant in a user's viewing experience. This study explores connotative and emotional meaning making behaviors so as to better understand the behavior exhibited by users engaged with captioned multimedia. To that end, a mixed methods design was developed that utilizes qualitative methods from the field of User Experience (UX) to explore connotative equivalence between D/deaf and Hearing users and an augmented version of S. R. Gulliver and G. Ghinea's (2003) quantitative measure Information Assimilation (IA) from the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) to measure the denotative equivalence between the two user types. To measure denotative equivalence a quiz containing open-ended questions to measure IA was used. To measure connotative equivalence the following measures were used:
1) Likert scales to measure users' confidence in answers to open-ended questions.
2) Likert scale to measure a users' interest in the stimulus.
3) Open - ended questions to identify scenes that elicited the strongest emotional responses from users.
4) Four- level response questions with accompanying Likert scales to determine strength of emotional reaction to three select excerpts from the stimulus.
5) An interview consisting of three open- ended questions and one fixed - choice question.
This study found that there were no major differences in the denotative equivalence between the D/deaf and Hearing groups; however, there were important differences in the emotional reactions to the stimulus that indicate there was not connotative equivalence between the groups in response to the emotional content. More importantly, this study found that the strategies used to understand the information users were presented with in order to create both denotative and connotative meaning differed between groups and individuals within groups. To explain such behaviors observed, this work offers a theory of Media Reconciliation based on Wolfgang Iser's (1980) phenomenological theory about the 'virtual text'.

Included in

Communication Commons