Earlier this year a blizzard hit the east coast of USA and emergency announcements were posted not only on TV, but also online. Most of TV announcements were captioned and also sign language interpreters were included. However, most of online videos with announcements were NOT captioned. The majority of deaf and hard of hearing people does not know or understand sign language and relies on captioning.
This past weekend it happened all over again – when making emergency announcements about hurricane Matthew that was about to hit Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina. Many online videos had sign language interpreters, but most of them were not captioned online and especially in real time – which left out majority of deaf and hard of hearing people who could not understand sign language. With more people using mobile devices and less of them watching TV to follow news, it’s a very important thing to note.
That issue was also brought up at an HLAA NYC monthly meeting last month during a panel of emergency preparedness representatives who realized that many deaf and hard of hearing people cannot follow sign language interpreters on TV or in videos and that all emergency announcements need to be captioned in real time. I suggested that a LED display be set up in the briefing room in front of camera so that deaf and hard of hearing people would not have to worry if certain TV stations don’t caption the announcements on TV and especially online. All meeting attendees – who are NON signing deaf and hard of hearing people – agreed with me and said that they could not follow many online videos because they were not captioned and they don’t know sign language.
ALL media announcements need to be captioned EVERYWHERE – on TV, websites, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) – to make it accessible to a wider audience.
The following are examples of Facebook videos that were NOT captioned:
- Facebook video by FEMA
- Facebook video by Fox 5 Atlanta
- Facebook video by Telegraph GA
- Facebook video by Fox Carolina News
- Facebook video by CNN
I’m sure there are more examples of videos that are not captioned, but listed are some that I came across. As you notice on the screenshots below, the option for “Captions” are grayed out meaning there’s no way to access those videos via captions.
The following is the only Facebook video by FEMA I saw online with an emergency announcement about hurricane Matthew both in captions and sign language: