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Editorial #117: Hearing People Out There–It’s Time to Thank Deaf and Hard of Hearing People!

This is an update of an editorial published almost 2 years ago.

Dr. Z did some research and looking back on technological developments the past 100 years, he has identified 3 things that hearing people have the deaf and hard of hearing people to thank for.

The first is the telephone-which supposedly came about while Alexander Graham Bell was working on an hearing aid for his deaf wife, Mabel. Out of that work, he came up with the telephone, which the deaf people didn’t have full benefit until almost 75 years later with the development of the TTY modem by Robert Weitbrecht.

The second thing is closed captioning. When the concept was first brought to the public in the 1970’s, the hearing community found it distracting and they went back to the drawing boards and made captioning “closed” instead of “open”. Today, we see captioning in bars and gyms and well-used by hearing people. Without captioning, they would be “deaf” in those environments to enjoy TV. Now, in 2012, we are beginning to see more captioning on the Internet. The FCC has ruled that any TV shows previously shown on TV must be captioned if they are to be shown on the Internet.

The deaf people were quick to pick up video communication when it was first commercialized in 1999. For the past 11 years, the hearing community used video only in business environments to cut down on travel costs, and they did not think it would be useful in the consumer community–preferring voice communication instead. Look at video communication today, it is becoming almost mainstream. With tablets and smartphones coming out every now and then—they all are coming out with FRONT-FACING cameras. That was not the case a few years ago. More and more people are using software-based apps such as the Z4 and soon to come Z5 to enable video communication.

The bottom line–with a diverse community worldwide–each segment of the community has values and developments that benefit the rest of the community–this is true with those 3 developments Dr. Z just mentioned. That is cross-pollination for everyone!

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

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