Joint release, 15 August 2014: Ruth Warick, President of The International Federation of Hard of Hearing People and Colin Allen, President of the World Federation of the Deaf, call on all governments to ensure broadcasting access through the provision of captions for Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens worldwide.
It is estimated that between 360 to 570 million people globally have significant hearing loss which creates access challenges. Technology often helps access challenges and this is clearly highlighted by access through broadcast media captioning.
Broadcast media is ever present in the dynamic digital world. It can be entertaining, informing and educational. Access to captioning is critical to ensure that Deaf & Hard of Hearing children and adults can be afforded equal access to this ever growing and increasingly important communication vehicle.
In Scotland, during the recent Commonwealth Games, access was enabled through real-time captioning available for all Games attendees and participants and it was also provided on broadcast television. We salute and thank the broadcasters for ensuring this level of access across the United Kingdom.
But this level of access to captioning did not extend to all Commonwealth Countries. For example, in New Zealand, people who were Deaf or Hard of Hearing were denied access to captioned broadcast coverage of the Games as the broadcaster, NZ SKY TV, did not provide it.
Despite many requests, the New Zealand Government has not introduced legislation requiring broadcasters to provide captioning. But research has shown conclusively that until legislation is enacted, broadcasters will not introduce a reasonable rate of captioning on any medium, whether it be broadcast television or on the web.
As Presidents of the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People and the World Federation of the Deaf this example highlights discrimination that cannot be permitted to continue. We call on the New Zealand Government and other governments globally, to introduce laws to ensure broadcast access through the provision of captions for citizens who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing across all form of media whether on television or internet-based such as the web.