by Michele Linder
Here in the United States, we enjoy a high rate of captioning on television (though we still have our frustrations when we come across an exempt program or one where the rules have not been enforced), but New Zealand’s rate of public broadcasting captioning is less than 25%, a level well below some third world countries. Unfortunately, you’ll find those who argue vehemently as to why a higher rate of captioning cannot be achieved. You’ll even find people who make excuses as to why captioning shouldn’t be provided.
Why wouldn’t you caption? “…when you look at the adverse effects of exclusion, and consider the very weighty costs to our society, clearly, the benefits of providing captioning far outweigh any monetary cost incurred to provide it. Captioning truly is a bargain”
April 18, 2014
by Michele Thomas Linder.
In my personal advocacy efforts for captioning, in all forms needed, the one excuse that is offered most frequently is: Captioning is cost prohibitive — “It costs too much.” and/or “We don’t have the funds.” Those failing to provide captions are most concerned with who is going to pay for them. When I hear those excuses, my response is always to point out that the focus should be on the investment and benefit of inclusion and accessibility. Because, when you look at the adverse effects of exclusion, and consider the very weighty costs to our society, clearly, the benefits of providing captioning far outweigh any monetary cost incurred to provide it. Captioning truly is a bargain.
Keeping people with barriers dependent on others — some negative people think those with disabilities should rely on their family and friends for assistance, but that’s not even possible for some as they may be isolated without family or much connection to the outside world in their social life. It’s simply not a realistic solution — robs them of their self-worth, first and foremost.
In a broader realm, it’s not in the best interest of society, as a whole, to force people with barriers to depend on others. One way or the other, dependence comes with a cost and we all pay for those dependencies whether we think we do, or not. It makes so much more sense to pay, monetarily, for providing what someone needs to remain independent than to have them draw on public assistance or government, which is what excluding them often forces.
The World Heath Organization cites the number of people with “Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40dB in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30dB in the better hearing ear in children.” to be 360,000,000 worldwide. That’s a huge slice of the world population to limit by not providing access to communication.
Too many in our society focus on not wanting their taxpayer dollars to pay for things that don’t directly affect them, and they might even think those asking for accommodation feel as if they are owed something by society. Also, unless you are deaf yourself, you might not understand how limiting that particular barrier is, however, it is worth noting that disability is something that can happen to anyone, in an instant. But if you woke up tomorrow not able to hear you would want accommodations in place so that you could remain as independent and informed as you were the day before disaster struck. That is guaranteed. Not because the world owes you anything, but because it makes sense in the broader picture, and because it’s the right thing to do.
Accessibility is an investment which works to remove the barriers of an increasingly complex and competitive world, allowing those who cannot communicate in traditional ways to participate, contribute and compete on the same level as everyone else. Quality and uniform captioning enables millions to remain independent and vital in a world that too easily justifies excluding them by placing more value on the monetary aspect of what a thing costs, rather than on what providing it accomplishes.
When looking at captioning in this light, why wouldn’t you want people with barriers to be a part of a productive society by including them?
Michele Thomas Linder is an active Advocate of Captioning in the USA. She is profoundly deaf and is currently living in Munich Germany.