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Dear Jeff, Tim and Larry,

I am writing this letter on Father’s Day on behalf of all deaf and hard of hearing Americans.

Technology has made great strides in accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing Americans in the past 20 years in the form of closed-captioning and video relay services. As a deaf person and as a person who has spent over 50 years of his life in technology I am beginning to be concerned by the direction by your companies are taking with the latest in the technology you are creating such as Alexa, Siri and self-driving cars. All of these “new” technologies are voice-based, rather than being text-based, which is the primary means we communicate.

This is causing your companies to leave deaf and hard of hearing Americans behind and not be able to be first-class citizens like the rest of the population, if this trend continues.

The solutions are much simpler than you realize: for us to be able to type in commands, instead of requiring us to speak (which many of us do not do well or not able to do so); for us to understand spoken feedback, just convert it to text for us to be able to read; for podcasts, just create captioning for those, using technology that is readily available for captioning on television. For self-driving cars, just be sure we can type in commands and read text instead of spoken feedback from the cars.

This is a simple reminder to you all not to forget this segment of the population which contributes to the diversity and vitality of America as we know it today.

Thanks for “listening.”

Phil

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