Hearing Access: Zoom is Beta Testing Integrated Auto Captions

Another day, another Zoom meeting. Or make that two or three Zoom meetings. Much of the world continues to operate remotely, meaning virtual communication remains critical — and without captions, these events are very challenging for people with hearing loss. Several options now exist for free auto-captioned remote conversation including Google Meet and Skype, but Zoom, the most popular platform, remains un-captioned, except via third-party add-ons in their premium plans. This is a big problem for people with hearing loss.

About a month ago, I penned an open letter to Zoom and other video conferencing companies asking them to make the high quality auto speech recognition (ASR) captioning available in their premium plans free for people with hearing loss. The gold standard of captioning is Communication Access Realtime Translation or CART, where a live transcriber types what is spoken in real time, but this is not always available or cost effective for personal use. Hence the need for free ASR captioning.

My post turned into a petition that has garnered more than 34,000 signatures. I am extremely proud of how the hearing loss community has come together to advocate for its needs in this time of crisis. I’ve been asked how long I will keep the petition going. The answer: Until we get the results we need. Sign or share the petition here.

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Hearing Loss Access: Zoom & Google, Make Free Captions Available Now

People with hearing loss have trouble communicating in many situations leading to isolation and loneliness during normal times. Today, amid COVID-19, things are even tougher. In-person conversation has moved online, leaving many people with hearing loss few options for connecting with family and friends, especially seniors who are most at risk for developing virus complications.

Free automatic speech recognition (ASR) captioning for people with hearing loss on video conference platforms like Zoom and Google could make all the difference. Today I pen an open letter to these companies. Please share my words and add your own. Together, we can bring about the change we need to remain engaged and productive in today’s challenging times.

Computer displaying a video conference call.

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Workplace Communication Tips for People With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can make workplace communication challenging. In my recent talk on hearing loss in the workplace at Goldman Sachs, I shared tips for what we, as people with hearing loss, can do to enhance communication success. These include things like understanding our own hearing loss and making sure our requests for assistance are very specific. My latest article for Hearing Tracker summarizes these suggestions. Please share your ideas in the comments.

An excerpt from the article is below. To read the full post click here

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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Hearing Loss in the Workplace: An In-Person Meeting

Hearing loss can make communication in the workplace challenging, but there are strategies for success. In a recent talk on hearing loss in the workplace at Goldman Sachs, I highlighted the strategies and tips I use for one of the most difficult workplace situations — an in-person meeting. I share the portion of my talk on this topic below. Please add your suggestions in the comments.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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Hearing Loss in the Workplace: Strategies for Success

Managing hearing loss in the workplace can be challenging. Hearing loss stigma may make you worried about disclosing your disability, and even if you do, others may not know the communications best practices required to help you hear your best. You may struggle in some work situations, but thrive in others, confusing your co-workers and clients. You company may not be aware of the many new technologies that can make communication easier for people with hearing loss. The good news is that there are many strategies for success, but much education is needed.

So, when Goldman Sachs’ Disability Interest Forum invited me to speak on a panel highlighting hearing health in the workplace at one of their four Disability Awareness Month events, I jumped at the chance! I was thrilled that a leading global firm like Goldman Sachs chose to prioritize hearing health in the workplace in such a public and impactful way.

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