“Captions in English grant members of the Deaf Community equal access.”
No, they do not! That is a MYTH!
Early in my experiences within the Deaf Community, I realized most of my Deaf friends preferred to have videos translated in ASL, instead of reading the captions provided. Many times captions were not even provided for the videos shared. When they were however, I did not want to assume the captions were enough, so I began to ask, “Do you want the captions or do you want ASL?” Every time the response was…”ASL!”
The news for 2020 current world events has been the source of many Deaf people’s heightened frustrations with so many miscommunications through the written word, closed captions. This has caused their fear and confusion to reach an all time high. They began to “voice” their need for ASL and to explain why. Their “voice” is being heard, at least on some levels.
This past week, I found this June 2020 article Closed-captions Vs ASL: Which Do Deaf People Prefer? I was searching for resources to share with organizations to help convince them to grant us permission to translate their already published videos in ASL.
On September 25th The Daily Moth, a Facebook Deaf-owned news platform, shared that a D.C. Federal Court ordered the White House to provide ASL interpreters for all COVID-19 news-briefings beginning October 1st. That is awesome news! But why would they only be required to provide it for COVID-19 news-briefings? I do not know the answer, but at least it is a start.
The Daily Moth recognized earlier this year the need for captioning their news, as well, so now both ASL and captions are provided for meeting the needs of their growing audience. I have Deaf friends who always want both ASL and captions.
I am thankful this is changing for such current news-worthy events, COVID-19 news-briefings. It will take time to educate and advocate for all spoken English audios, videos and live events to be captioned. It will take even longer, however, to translate into ASL all spoken English audios and videos shared in the past. Add to that all books, articles, blogs written in English (like this one) that will someday be provided in ASL for all Deaf People to have full access to them, as well.
You and I take so much for granted. We simply read English anytime and anywhere we want, rarely giving a thought to what it might be like if we could not. Try to imagine with me, living in another country, but not knowing their native language, spoken or read. How would we feel?
Realizing you and I could lose our hearing, at any time, by an accident, illness or due to age and no longer be able to live with ease of communication between our beloved family and friends, much less retain our jobs, would give us a whole new perspective, as well.
ASL gives access to communication for everyone, at every age. It should be required that all of us learn ASL as children, whereby granting us all access to rich communication with everyone even into our 70’s, 80, and 90’s. Everyone should sign!
In other ASL news, October 1st was the national celebration for the completion of the first Christian Bible being visually produced in ASL, the ASLV Translation.
2020 will be remembered as a pivotal year for ASL in the Deaf Community in many ways, for years to come.
Note: I asked Charles to proof this blog post for me, before publishing it. He said I failed to mention how lousy the captioning, live and pre-recorded, can be. As someone who has become moderately deaf in both ears over the past 5 years, now wearing bi-lateral hearing aids, he has become somewhat an authority on captions. If the TV is on, the captions are on. I asked him to be a guest-blogger for me to share his experiences on this topic. I pray he will.