Hearing Loss Advocacy: Captions Are Our Ramps

Last week’s post was an open letter to video conferencing companies like Zoom and Google, asking them to provide free auto captioning for people with hearing loss during this time of physical distancing. In most cases, auto captioning is available on these platforms, but it is hidden behind a paywall for premium paid accounts. There was so much support from readers, I started a petition on Change.org to capture the response.

The results have been tremendous. As of this writing, 8,000 people have signed the petition, and the number continues to grow. I have begun sharing the petition with the companies. If you have not signed already, will you help me to show more support by signing and sharing the petition? Together we can make change happen!


Change.org petition results

Free Captions Are a Universal Need

Signers of the petition come from all over the United States as well as many places around the world. Countries represented include Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Philippines, Trinidad & Tobago, Greece, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Captioning is a universal need for people with hearing loss across the globe. 

Signers Are Passionate About the Need for Communication Access

When people sign the petition, they have the opportunity to share why they signed. Reading through the reasons has been inspiring and further demonstrates how important this issue is to the hearing loss community.

Each comment shows the passionate desire people have to connect with one another. While auto captioning is far from perfect and not applicable in many situations, free auto captioning on video conferencing platforms could go a long way towards providing better communication for people with hearing loss during this challenging time.

Below I share some of the comments.

“People with hearing issues should not have to endure isolation during this stressful time!”

“I’m a hearing healthcare professional. This is an identified need for inclusivity in human communication and people with hearing loss deserve it.”

“It’s important to include people with hearing impairment so they are not left out, left behind, or excluded from important, or entertaining events!”

“No one should have to pay extra to have equitable access to communication methods.”

“People who are deaf and hard of hearing deserve to have access.”

“I am unable to pay extra money to get captions. ASR that is included would be a game changer for many of us. Please!”

“I need captioning to understand missing words. Imagine participating in a conference in a foreign language. How much would you understand? This is how I hear English. I have bilateral cochlear implants but still miss up to 15% of the conversation.”

“It’s hard enough being isolated during this global pandemic, I cannot imagine how isolated I would feel if I were hearing impaired. Almost all of my interaction, both for work and social, is via video conferencing. Please provide this very necessary enhancement for free to those who are hearing impaired. Thank you!”

“My mother, a senior citizen, is losing her hearing and has trouble hearing others …want her to have equal access to communication … captioning would really help her very much to stay connected with others.”

“I’m signing because in this time of quarantine, it’s essential that people with hearing loss receive information and support they need. So many of us are relying on Zoom and other platforms to communicate with friends and families, but without assistance, those with hearing loss are at an extreme disadvantage. Please move ahead ASAP to provide the help that’s needed.”

Just as people with mobility challenges should not have to pay to use ramps, people with hearing loss should not have to pay for equal access to communication. Captions are our ramps.

Readers, have you signed the petition yet? 

14 thoughts on “Hearing Loss Advocacy: Captions Are Our Ramps

  1. Your title says it all – Captions are our ramps. Would anyone even think to charge a person to use a ramp? Hopefully, hearing people who make these decisions will “get it.”

  2. Shari- You are the best! Thank you so much for taking this on. With much appreciation and enormous gratitude.

  3. Quelle énergie, merci a vous pour vos actions.!
    Qu’il est bon de se sentir compris et entendu, la cause des sourds est internationale.
    Je partage votre article comme je le fais souvent tant vous êtes pertinente sur le sujet. Bonne chance pour la vie a NY en ce moment

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