It is the year of 2020, you are walking with your friend who says, “Look at the news, man…can you believe that!?” You suddenly become curious to know what is going on. Your friend is shocked and watching the news on his mobile phone. You ask your friend what the newscaster is saying. Unfortunately, there is no captioning. Guess what, you have to rely on him to give you the news.
This mobile technology is not very far ahead and take CNN Mobile for example, which pushes VOD (video on demand) to an iPhone (other cell phones can be enabled as well). Currently, CNN Mobile does not offer captioning because there is no FCC mandate that says otherwise. You have Netflix which says that the technology is not possible (read the excerpt here) and you have iTunes which continues to lag behind in providing access to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Then there is Hulu which is currently the ‘Gold Standard’ in providing captioning access via digital streaming. although Hulu does not offer 100% captioning access to all shows. Click here to read the story about how Hulu came to provide captioning.
There are over 30 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States. The potential for the market is huge and whoever captures the market has an advantage. That advantage currently goes to Hulu, only if Hulu was able to find a way to stream digital media to cell phones with captioning, it would be “winner takes all.” However…what remains to be seen is what the other competitors will offer on the table in the near future.
The only problem is that those competitors like CNN.com, iTunes, and Netflix are not required to provide captioning access anytime now. They have nothing to worry about and the only thing they have to worry about is whom ever provides the best or the most content. Never mind the 30 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who are waiting for the access to have captioning.
Our time is now and we have the potential to encourage the legislation to approve the bill, H.R. Bill 3101 (read HR 3101) that requires media providers to provide captioning access through digital streaming. In summary, the H.R. 3101 is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to emerging Internet-Protocol based communication and video programming technologies in the 21st century. There are at least 6 co-sponsors and 95 companies supporting the bill (source). We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and wait for things to magically appear and fall in place. We have come a long way in making big changes from the man going to the moon, First Black President of the United States, and the original Deaf President Now march. Anything is possible and that is why we, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, need your voice to be heard all the way to Washington D.C. Write a letter to your Congressman, Tweet your Congressman, contact your House of Representative and Senate to bring the fight to the very core of the issue.
The issue is to provide access to digital streaming captioning to those 30 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States and to liberate the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from the dependency of others.