Take Action, #captionTHIS

Two weeks ago, as I usually do on lunch break, I was browsing the local headlines on the internet to see what was going on in the world outside my office.  I happened across one by WCVB.com, Boston, that read “Marvel superhero aids 4-year-old with hearing loss”. 

Being hard of hearing myself (as well as a bit of a sci-fi geek), this caught my attention, and I immediately clicked the link to check it out.  I thought it was a cool story!  I wanted to share it straight away with a couple of Deaf friends.  The problem?  The online video interview is not closed captioned.  And, of course, the text underneath the video is not a transcript of the video.

Okay, so my friends in the Deaf community are quite used to the lack of closed captioning of online videos…but hang on… THIS story, via news media, is about a Deaf boy that inspired Marvel Comics to create a Deaf Superhero, and the video is NOT captioned for the Deaf?  Seriously?  This was the one that pushed me over the proverbial edge.  

With more and more informational and entertainment resources moving content to online videos, lack of closed captioning is once again becoming a big issue (just as it was, not so very long ago, before televisions had closed captioning capabilities). 

Regardless of the fact that the technology is readily available now, there are no closed captioning laws regarding online videos (yet), so most TV networks, online news media, etc. just don’t bother.  And they will continue to ignore the need for equal communication access online until we take a stand.

Now, many of you may say, “This doesn’t affect me/my life.” or “I can hear, I don’t need captions.”  Well, that may be so…now

Lack of closed captions didn’t affect me personally ten years ago.  Now – different story. As my hearing loss progresses, I find myself relying more and more on closed captions, especially when it’s not an appropriate time to crank the volume as high as it will go.  (And by the by, I’m 40 years young, so this isn’t exactly an “old age” issue.)

It also didn’t affect my Mom prior to her battle with cancer.  Several rounds of aggressive chemotherapy took its toll on her body, and while she could see okay, she spent the last few years of her life being extremely hard of hearing.

I certainly don’t wish anyone hearing loss.  I’m simply pointing out that it can happen to any of us, for any number of reasons.  

Or maybe not you, but maybe someone you know and love, and then you’ll feel like I have many times, helpless as you witness their frustrations at being left out of the loop. 

These days (and my computer illiterate Dad complains about this regularly), there will be a mere few lines written in the newspaper, or a quick blurb on the TV news, followed by “For the complete story, see our website.”  Now we are being pushed to the internet for information, yet that information is not accessible to a large number of people. 

So, beginning tomorrow, June 6, 2012, I stand up for Equal Communication Access by joining some fine folks in the #captionTHIS movement.  

Please take a few moments to watch this video before continuing on.

How can YOU help now?  Take action! 

Utilize your social media!  

  • Share something besides funny memes on facebook!  Share the #captionTHIS video
  • Tweet videos with the hashtag #captionTHIS (Remember to @ the TV network or news organization that did not caption the video so that they’ll see the tweets.)
  • Contact your local news stations, your favorite TV networks, etc. via email.  For more information, ideas, and contacts, see How to take action on 6/6 HERE.

Remember the online Stop SOPA protest a few months ago?  It worked.  Congress backed off on the bill to consider the revisions that were called for.

Together, we can be seen, we can be heard, and we CAN make a difference.

Let’s work together now to make a difference, to stand up for equal communication access and #captionTHIS.

Thank you.  🙂