Approximately 12 percent (38 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss. (Center for Hearing and Communication, 2014.) Those 36 million adults are more likely to visit and revisit websites and use IT that are sensitive to their needs by having good quality captioning.
Kate, a WeCo Certified Test Consultant or CTC, lives with an 80 percent hearing deficit. Her hearing loss is a result of a genetic sensorineural hearing disorder that has challenged her family members for generations. Kate does not speak or understand American Sign Language because she was “late-deafened,” fitted with her first hearing aids at the age of twenty-eight.
Despite having hearing aids, Kate must still work at understanding what is being communicated to her through words and sounds. She explains: “With the use of hearing aids, sounds are amplified for me, but I still must deal with understanding the words and sounds I hear. This is accomplished with a combination of speech-reading, noticing body language and facial expressions, as well as asking the speaker to please repeat themselves. This works to some extent for one-on-one conversations. Striving to hear is exhausting. It takes continual concentrated effort to glean enough words and sounds to make sense. Just imagine doing that for hours on end.”
With the constant effort that it takes Kate to understand words and sounds, it should be no surprise that she relies on visual elements to convey information. “I would be lost without them,” Kate shared. That is why video captioning is so important to her, and to many others who live with a hearing impairment. If movies, television, and websites offer no captioning for their audio features, the content is lost to a person living with a hearing disability. Good quality captioning allows these individuals to receive the information the rest of us hear.
Making Your Website Hearing Accessible
The best way to provide good captioning to ensure hearing-impaired and deaf users receive your audio information is to:
- Use a video that provides captioning, such as YouTube or Vimeo.
- Review the automatic captioning for misspelled words, grammar and punctuation errors.
With the burgeoning emphasis on accessibility, along with monumental strides in technology, Kate is optimistic about the future for those with a hearing impairment. Read more about Kate Striving to Hear in a Digital World.