I am proud to take my advocacy for free ASR captions for people with hearing loss on Zoom to the airwaves — and just in time for virtual holiday dinners. On November 23, 2020, I was interviewed on Here & Now, National Public Radio (NPR)’s midday news program with Peter O’Dowd. NPR distributes Here & Now to over 450 stations in the United States, with an estimated 4.5 million weekly listeners. I hope Zoom was listening!
To help with our advocacy, please sign and share the petition: Provide Free Captions for People with Hearing Loss on Video Conferencing Platforms.
Captions Needed for People with Hearing Loss on Zoom Calls
In the interview, I discuss the challenges people with hearing loss have faced during the pandemic. Face masks have taken away our speechreading super-power, making in-person conversations difficult. Video conferencing calls are a great way to stay connected with friends and family but for people with hearing loss, it is not as easy as it sounds. While video calls aid with lipreading, it is still often difficult to follow a conversation.
Poor audio quality and weak internet connections can create a mismatch between lip movements and sound, especially if discussions involve more than one person. Captions could change all that, but for Zoom, the most popular video conferencing platform, caption capabilities are hidden behind a paywall, making them difficult for most people with hearing loss to access. This needs to change.
Captions are Our Ramps
In the interview I state: “You would never build a building, include ramps but then ask people in wheelchairs to pay to use them. The same holds for people with hearing loss. Captions are our ramps. Why should we have to pay to use the feature we require for equal access?”
A big thank you to NPR for raising awareness about this important issue!