captions zoom hearing loss

NPR Segment Highlights Calls for Captioning on Zoom for People with Hearing Loss

Shari Eberts

Calls for free captioning for people with hearing loss on video platforms like Zoom recently received attention on National Public Radio (NPR).

On November 23, HHTM editor and hearing health advocate, Shari Eberts was interviewed on Here & Now, NPR’s midday news program. NPR distributes Here & Now to over 450 stations in the United States, with an estimated 4.5 million weekly listeners. 

In the interview, Eberts discusses the challenges people with hearing loss have faced during the pandemic. In addition to the widespread use of facemasks, which muffle speech and take away the ability to lipread, popular video platforms like Zoom have placed captioning capabilities behind a paywall – limiting access for users.

“As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I think about all the families celebrating virtually on Zoom. If only there were captions available so family members with hearing loss could be fully included as well,” said Eberts, who launched a petition in April seeking free captions on video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google and Microsoft.
“You would never build a building, include ramps but then ask people in wheelchairs to pay to use them. The same holds for people with hearing loss. Captions are our ramps. Why should we have to pay to use the feature we require for equal access?”
–Shari Eberts
**Listen to the full interview here. A written transcript is also available.**

Zoom: Calls for Free Captioning Access Grow Louder

So far, the petition launched by Eberts has nearly surpassed 59,000 signatures as of this writing. 
In an article published earlier this year for CNN Business, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was quoted, “in ten to twenty years, when people write the history of Covid-19, I want them to write that Zoom did the right thing for the world”.
In response, Eberts offered the following comments:
“Accessibility is the right thing! Will Zoom commit to free ASR captions for people with hearing loss by Christmas?
Readers interested to sign and support Shari Ebert’s petition for free captions, click here.


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