Vanessa Wells, captioning specialist: People who are hard of hearing absolutely have the right to captioning.

Vanessa Wells is a captioning specialist. She says that people with disabilities are sometimes invisible but they absolutely have the right to captions. A transcript of my interview with her follows: 

[Reporter] Why should organizations care about captioning?

[Vanessa] I think a lot of corporations feel that they don’t have… “We don’t have anyone deaf working for us and not many deaf people use our services”, but, they’re saying that because they don’t, perhaps, know the actual statistics. I keep hearing approximations in Western World countries, that about 10% of people have some degree of either deafness, or hearing problems, or being hard of hearing. So, if that’s 1 in 10, it’s quite commonly held, there’s 10% of the market right there, and a lot of people, especially in employment situations, social situations, they don’t want to talk about their deafness or their hearing issues. I have hearing conditions myself, no one wants to hear me going on about my problems hearing. So a lot of us just don’t even bother explaining. So we’re kind of invisible, and I think, with increased awareness about accessibility and legislation coming out in many countries sort of simultaneously, people are going to wake up and realize that it’s not as few people as they think. So, in terms of people with hearing problems, they absolutely have the right to captioning, to have access to content. On my blog I had a friend who’s got 20% hearing. I had her write about her experience and one of the things that really struck my heart was… She said: “When I have captions, I feel like I can participate in society.” And that really affected me.

[Reporter] Most of the businessmen that are CEOs of their own companies worry about the Return of Investment. What advice would you give them?

[Vanessa] Again… someone needs to point at the bottom line to them, that they’ve got a 10% population they’re ignoring and I was hearing, actually, overall disability rates are around 15%, and if you can’t appeal to a CEO on the bottom line, I don’t know what else can convince them. Short of giving them experiences with potential customers and potential employees and showing them how much these services are needed. And unless, perhaps they don’t have someone in their social circle or their family, with those problems I think that they’re quite oblivious, but they need educating.

 [Reporter] Thank you very much.

 [Vanessa] You’re welcome.

 

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