Captioning: A Missed Opportunity

I am always on the lookout in finding opportunities to learn and advance my skills.  However, sometimes it can be a frustrating experience at times. Whenever I see an exciting learning opportunity online,  I go check it out in curiosity.  People like to use videos for educational reasons. Many of these videos are not captioned which makes the information inaccessible to D/deaf and HOH people.

The Importance of Captioning

A picture with the different world world continents in light green.  Hands that are shades of blue, yellow, and purple boarding around the world continents.


“Captions are words displayed on a television screen that describe the audio or sound portion of a program. Captions allow viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow the dialogue and the action of a program simultaneously.”-National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

 
This is the definition of closed captioning. Closed Captions are not just only for TV entertainment but needed for educational reasons. As I look through many people who offer online courses to teach people many topics. Most of the time, the learning is through the use of videos.  These videos are often not captioned. This leaves out a group of people that do not have access to useful information that can help advance their skills.

While captioning is not just for the D/deaf and HOH community,  Christopher Pappas, from e-learning industry explains the six  benefits of why captioning are  so important:

  • Better accessibility for many other people, such as second language learners and people with different learning needs.
  • Appeals to people who are not just auditory learners.
  • Ability to retain information better.
  • By not captioning, you can risk being subjected to law penalties and fines.
  • Increased Visibility as captions can improve your SEO ( Search Engine Optimization) and sales.
  • People who are in places where they don’t have access to sound can benefit from it too.

Captioning is seen as an afterthought which it is a shame because reaching out to a broader audience should be the main goal.   Captioned videos would show more impact and assist with learning with your audience.

What can you do to avoid this missed opportunity

  • Research  the untapped target market: The ones who can benefit from captions. ( Fun fact: Captioning your videos can increase page views, search traffic, audience engagement, and etc.)
  • Learn and research anything you can about closed captioning then apply it to your product and course.
  • Make captioning a part of your plan from the beginning to end when  developing a product or learning course.
  • Be open to feedback. If someone points out anything wrong about the captions, be responsive to customers who address problems.

Conclusion

As more people are engaging with videos, it is important to caption videos. Just promoting to one group shouldn’t be an option.  Everyone should have the chance to learn, advance their careers, and improve personal life. Learning should be inclusive and this helps your business.

The Benefits of Learning Outside Your Field

In graduate school, I decided to take a business course, despite that I was a Human Resources major. I was always a person who liked learning about things that I was interested in. The business course I chose to take was Marketing.

It was only recently that I became interested in learning outside of my field again. It can be a useful thing to do when you want to gain new skills.   In my undergraduate years, I wanted to  become a teacher and took a lot of education related courses.  So I  also took some creativity classes  on the side. I knew having some creativity skills can be an advantage for me when being a teacher. Taking a class on creativity was the best decision I ever made, since I learned later the creativity skills is transferable to any career field.
 
Many students always ask teachers: “Why we should take [insert academic course] when I’m going to be in this[ insert career occupation]?”  

Let’s face it. We all have those moments where we hate those required courses in our majors and ask our teachers how this connects to our career field. It can be the same when we take jobs outside our career fields as well. We think of it as a “time waster” and can’t possibly learn “useful” skills from them .  However, we can learn from our unrelated experiences to connect it to our career of interest.

Mark Lukens from TalentCulture pointed out,

” If there was ever a case for applying the lesson to the lesson then this is it: professional development. Because, not only should you never stop learning, but you should never stop learning new approaches to the way that you learn.”


The article explored ways to enhance how you learn. The biggest takeaways of this article are the importance to learn outside your comfort zone and how it’s specific to your interests.  You should every once in a while be open to learning from another career field and change how you learn.

Lukens also pointed out that , you should not just learn from “standard paths” in your career field. For example, you are a sales person and responsible for selling clothes. It may be helpful to learn about the fashion industry and understand fashion trends to enhance your selling skills. It is also important to make sure is what you are learning is useful to you. My personal example of this is  when I learned about segmentation in Marketing. I felt it was useful to me since I learned some of recruiting strategies can be related to segmentation.  The other information about marketing may not be useful for me to learn since it may not apply to my current career field.

Overall, learning outside of your field is a good thing. It teaches you other valuable skills to enhance your ability to create strategies and solve problems throughout your career.

My question to readers:

  • What experiences or courses you have taken that are not related to your current career field?
  • Did these experiences or courses help you learn new skills that benefited for your current career? If so, please explain?

The Importance of Knowing Yourself

Picture of four gray people figures standing behind a blue figure person who is raising their hand up and standing on a podium.

During my first year of undergrad, I lived in a community-themed floor dorm at my university. I was placed in a community floor which the theme was leadership. Oddly, this wasn’t the floor I choose as a college freshman. At 18 year old, I was more interested in my own self-awareness as an adult and preferred the “personal adult journey” floor of the dorm. I wasn’t interested in the topic of leadership at the time.

On the first week of college, I listened to my dorm mates’ stories about their leadership experiences. A lot of them brought up being in a leadership position of a club or sports teams. I felt the odd one out of the group since my only leadership experience was from one group experience for a school project. I felt a less sense of accomplishment that people have been in a position where they have been exposed to leadership.

Throughout the year, I learned a lot from being in this community-themed floor which led to me to learn  more about being a leader. So I tried to take any opportunity  to expose myself to leadership experiences. I went and attended leadership conferences leadership conventions.  Lastly, I even had a short stint as an executive officer under the president of an Honor Society.  Despite all my previous experiences, I didn’t learn that leadership isn’t about titles and status.

The desire of being a leader is different from being a leader itself. I learned a lot of about leadership through  my experiences. I forgot the important thing about being a leader is being self-aware about who you are. It was selfish of me to demand to be a leader when I should have learned and managed about my own self-awareness and personality.

Many leadership experts talk about how important it is to be self-aware. Knowing yourself is important.

Leading yourself first is to recognize you’re the leader of your own life. It’s to recognize that you lead from within. It’s founded on a choice to live a life of meaning, a choice to live a life of purpose, a choice to have a positive impact on others.—George Ambler


Through my observations, I met many people who like the idea of leadership as a title and status. However, some of them did not know how to manage themselves before leading a group.  Psychology Today pointed out that those with low self-awareness end up not being effective leaders. Many of them get caught up with the power and perks that come with being a leader.

After my university experiences, I still focus on learning about leadership, but I work on my own self-awareness. I may not be able to be in a leadership role yet. Focusing on learning and practicing self-awareness can benefit to prepare an individual to become a better leader.

My Questions for my readers:

  • What is your personal journey that relates to leadership?
  • Has your definition of leadership changed over the years? If so, why?

Solving the Communcation Puzzle


Deafness is always complicated thing to explain to people. There are so many “shades”  of deafness and it’s not a complete black and white. Many hearing people think every D/deaf or Hard of Hearing (HOH) person can’t hear everything. When in truth, not all of them have the same deafness.This leads to many misconceptions about deaf people. In order to explain deafness better, we must understand the science behind hearing.  This video below describes how hearing works and how deafness can happen:


Most people would think hearing is focused on the ears, but the brain plays a huge role on how we can hear. However, it puts D/deaf and HOH people at a different place compared to hearing people. Learning how to hear is like solving puzzle like in what is said in the video. Some people can solve the puzzle faster, but others solve it at a slow pace. But what about those who wear you cochlear implants and hearing aids? Does it help them solve the puzzle faster?

While cochlear implants and hearing aids can help a little, both devices require a learning curve for your brain to learn or relearn where or what the sounds are. Cochlear Implants work with the auditory nerve and the neural signals are sent to the brain. In addition,hearing aids only amplify sound to help the surviving hair cells turn the sounds into neural signals so the information is sent to the brain.  It may help solve the “communication puzzle” slightly quicker, but it is still at a slow pace.  Which is why accommodations may be still needed despite using these devices. Having accommodations can help D/deaf and HOH people help solve the puzzle in communication.

Deafness is not black or white. So let’s both sides, hearing and deaf, help solve the puzzle together by understanding deafness, developing communication strategies, and providing the proper accommodations. Doing these things can help people succeed in their life and careers for the better.

The Ups and Downs of Social Bluffing

Imagine you are at work. You have a co-worker that is D/deaf or HOH that you occasionally work with on a daily basis. Let’s say your company has  an open office plan and you are talking to your co-worker about some important issues from the company’s last meeting. Your co-worker sits there and tries to listen over through the background noises in the office and other people’s conversations. He nods his head as you talk and laughs whenever you make jokes. At the end, you turned the conversation back to serious issues and you believed your co-worker had understood you. 

You asked, “Oh so you will bring that report by tomorrow? “

Your co-worker is confused and asked, “Report?  What about tomorrow?”


This is just one example of social buffing.

“Social Bluffing is pretending to hear or understand something that is being said, and behaving in a way that shows you understand, even when you have little or no clue as to what is being said.”- Karen Putz, Hands and Voices.

It is a common habit among D/deaf and HOH people when they are communicating with hearing people. This habit has some good and bad things about it. Social bluffing is good in certain situations where you don’t want to slow down the conversation by constantly asking other people to repeat what they just said. Conversations are fast and not everyone has the time to stop for anyone.

I learned this all too well for most of my life, it was a challenge to keep up with group conversations and ignore other background noises. However, social bluffing is not good for situations when it needs a response  such as when a person asks you a question. When you do not have the right information because you have been pretending that you understand, you can get in trouble. Therefore , it is critical for both employees regardless their hearing status to understand the concept of social bluffing and how to use other communication methods to get your point across.

Hands and Voices give out some strategies to help you avoid social bluffing for people who have hearing loss. It is worth trying these strategies to enhance your communication skills better.

Here are some tips for hearing workers assist your D/deaf and HOH co-workers in conversations :

  • Be patient and offer repeats if requested.
  • Have a cellphone for texting or pen and paper in hand when needed.
  • Allow the person to email you to help recall the conversation afterwards.
  • Move to a different environment where it is well lighted and has little background noise.
  • Ask what communication method is preferred and do not make assumptions.

It is important for both sides to understand the upsides and downsides of social bluffing. The bottom line, we all deserve to have access to communication and be understood.
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Problem Solving and Deafness

Problem solving is “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem”- Merriam Webster Dictionary


Problem-solving is an everyday process for a deaf or hard of hearing person. It has been known that deaf and hard of hearing people are “mediators” that bring value to the workplaces. This helps bridge gaps between cultural and communication issues every day.

A good example of this is telephone communication. When my hearing loss wasn’t too bad at a young age, I was able to do telephone communication well.As I got older, I realized my hearing as changed over the years. I wasn’t able to keep up the same energy like I did in my high school and early college careers.  Despite hearing aids, they aren’t completely perfect to get every sound even on the telephone!

I had a great struggle with phone conversations with people who were outside my social circle. When I did attempt to get teacher certification years ago, I was trying to get in touch with someone to schedule accommodations for the PRAXIS exam ( a teacher certification exam). It was tough to try to hear the other person over the phone, eventually, I had to have my mother to relay the information to me. To be honest, it is embarrassing to ask my mother to relay information to me. But at the time, it was the only option for me.

For years, I had to deal with the struggling telephone communication. So I decided to research information that I could about  deaf friendly telephones or other methods to work with the telephone. While email does help, I knew the world preferred telephone based communication. So I search for solutions that at least make telephone communication more manageable. As of now, I now have a captioned phone for a landline and the same for my cellphone, a captioning app that works with telephone communication. While the solutions are not a sure fire, I constantly test them out to see if they work best for me. Some solutions were horrible, others did make the test to at least make communication more manageable. It was mostly trial and error similar to conducting science experiments. In the end, it was up to me to solve the problem to figure out how to navigate the hearing world.

This is only just one example of D/deaf and HOH people ( or any disability) using problem-solving for their everyday life. A TED Talk, “ We design for disability, we all benefit” explains that this very well and there were many great inventions and ideas that benefited not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/lang/en/elise_roy_when_we_design_for_disability_we_all_benefit.html
Just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t contribute and come up with great solutions to solving a problem . Everyone has their own point of view about the world and their contribution counts in order to create ideas and solutions in solving everyday problems.

Labels are Personal

I was never really a big label person. I never liked being fit into a box, but I understood why labels were necessary.  As a hard of hearing person, I do not prefer the term “hearing impaired”. As I grew older, I no longer define my deafness by this term.

Why this is important to know? Over time, you will be meeting many deaf and hard of hearing individuals that prefer to label their hearing loss in different terms. There are some terms that are considered outdated and it is important to remember for future reference.

There is a huge difference between the Deaf and deaf individuals in the community. As stated in Deaf Linx, the capital “D” in the word deaf refers to the culturally Deaf individuals who are involved in the deaf culture. They use sign language as their primary communication mode.

In most cases, you will meet a lowercase “d” deaf person who is not involved in the Deaf culture. They can use a variety of communication methods but mostly use oral communication.  Sometimes some of them will refer themselves as hard of hearing which is more friendly term over “hearing impaired”. Deaf Linx recommends, you should use the term” Deaf, deaf, and hard of hearing” to describe the deaf community .

Generally, I would recommend asking the person who has hearing loss individually. It always better to ask rather than continue to use a term that could potentially offend the person. Do not assume that you know this person’s hearing loss. Defining labels are personal to each individual which should be taken with lightly.

While labels may not be a big deal to some people, it is important to know about these terms to make a person with hearing loss feel comfortable in the workplace.

Creating a Discussion about Deaf Diversity

“ Do you know sign language?”
 

Most people has said this to me when I first told them I was Hard of Hearing ( Hard of Hearing can be considered a part of the deaf spectrum). I’m thankful now that I know some sign language and eventually plan to learn more about ASL in future. However, this isn’t a post about me going to learn sign language. This is about learning the different types of deafness.

This article called “Shades of Deafness” that shows the diversity of the deaf community. Not every deaf person knows sign language or can speak. It is very important for managers to know there are many different types of deaf people. Managers should be open minded to all types of deafness. It is very important to not make any assumptions about a deaf employee or job candidate.

If a deaf employee or job candidates discloses about their deafness, please engage in a discussion with them about accommodations. Discussion about accommodations is useful because it will help deaf employees and candidates become successful in the workplace. There are many resources about accommodations. These accommodations are stated in the ADA law to help deaf people effectively communicate with everyone. Managers and HR are “encouraged to consult with the person with a disability to discuss what aid or service is appropriate.”

Here are some resources:
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf can be used for hiring for interpreters for deaf people who prefer to use sign language.
NCRA can be used for hiring CART ( Communication Access Real-time Translation.) providers and captionists for deaf people who may prefer written communication. This works best for people who do not know or not fluent yet in sign language.

While some organizations do worry about the cost of accommodations, the IRS has tax incentives that can help settle the cost of accommodations.

Overall, it is important for managers to understand how diverse deaf people are and have an open discussion about accommodations. This discussion can help promote diversity in the workplace and better understanding about the deaf community.

Hearing Loss and Self-Disclosure ( What You Need to Know)

Self-disclosure about having hearing loss can be either a good or bad thing. In my school and college years, I was always told that I should be honest about my hearing loss to others. I was always the student who went up and tell the teacher about my hearing loss and what were my needed accommodations.  I did this in order to clear out any misunderstandings and get the proper accommodations earlier on. However, not everyone is comfortable about disclosing their hearing loss.



To an employer perspective, I can understand that employers do want to promote diversity in their workplace. One way to promote disclosure among employees who have hearing loss ( or any disability) is to create a comfortable environment for self-disclosure.



An article from the Society of Human Resources Management talks about the factors that discourages disclosure. These reasons are:
  • Fear of employers focusing on their disability.
  • Losing health care.
  • Fear of no advancement in their careers such as promotions.
  • Having an unsupportive supervisor.
  • Being treated differently by co-workers and supervisors.
  • Privacy.



These factors about self-disclosing are important to know to improve organizations’ recruitment strategies and learn how to support employees with disabilities.



Hearing loss is an “invisible” disability that you cannot see.  The person must disclose the disability to inform you. This means disclosure may be hard for  some people with hearing loss. So how do you create a comfortable environment for disclosure?



Recommendations



  • Make sure all audio and videos that you may have are captioned ( preferably human-edited captions).
For example, a deaf or hard of hearing job seeker may want to research the company in more detail before applying for a position. The only problem is that the company’s promotional videos aren’t captioned. Captioning videos are important since “3.7 million of Americans who reported having hearing problems”. These people may be job seekers or employees of the organization so it is important to caption or provide transcriptions all audio and video captions.  This will create an accessible workplace and encourage job seekers to apply.



  • Keep questions about hearing loss to minimal.
While it is okay to be a bit curious and ask basic questions, some people may not be comfortable  with others asking deep personal questions about their hearing loss.  Respect their boundaries and focus on the person than the hearing loss.



  • Promote deaf awareness in the workplace.
There is no “right” way to be a deaf person. Some deaf workers need interpreters and some deaf workers may need assistive technology. Have an open mind on what technologies and accommodations are out there. This will help make deaf and hard of hearing employees more comfortable and be able to create dialogue on what works best for them.



Organizations and companies shouldn’t wait until a deaf person approaches them whether if  they are in the hiring or on-boarding process. It is great to have to have these ideas in place when creating a comfortable environment to promote workplace diversity.   It will help create a healthy dialogue for both sides to make the recruiting process and workplace environment a more positive place to work.



Medical Model, Social Model….What about the Economic Model?


Can Universal Design be applied to hiring process?


“The Economic model is demand driven.” –Travelablity

Diversity is becoming an increasingly discussed topic for organizations. While minority groups topic are discussed, disability is not often talked about issue which it should be. Job discrimination is persistent problem for many minorities,  there needs to be a new perspective on looking at hiring people with disabilities.

Why should Human Resources and Hiring managers should care about this issue?

Education could be the solution to this issue. However, money talks and bias is stronger which would take years to get rid off.  

As I was researching, I read a paper that introduces the concept of an Economic model for disability. The paper switches the perspective that compliance and disability  rights is not the “right thing to do ”. It is also a “marketing demand driver”.  This table below by Travelability explains the Economic Model of Disability, along with the other two known models of disability: Medical and Social.
Medical
Social
Economic
PERSONAL Problem
SOCIAL issue
DEMAND Issue
Medical care
Social integration
Economic Integration
Individual Treatment
Social action
Product development
Professional help
Individual and collective responsibility
Innovation in design and function
Personal adjustment
Environmental manipulation
Universal design
Behaviour
Attitude
Culture
Care
Human rights
Competitive advantage
Health care policy
Politics
Market forces
Individual Adaptation
Social change
Inclusion
[ Image description: A chart that explains the three disability models: Medical, Social, Economic.
 The medical model’s column defines disability as a personal problem: Medical care, individual treatment , professional help, personal adjustment, behaviour, care, health care policy, and individual adaptation.
The social model’s column defines disability as social issue: Social integration, social action, individual and collective responsibility, environmental manipulation, attitude, human rights, politics, and social change.
And lastly, to the Economic model’s column defines disability as a demand issue:  Economic integration, product development, innovation in design and function, universal design, culture ,competitive advantage, market forces, and inclusion.] 
People tend to be more familiar about the medical and social models of disability. However, these models don’t address how important people with disabilities for the economy. The Economic Model of Disability  shows the advantages for focusing people with disabilities in an economic perspective.

What does this has to with hiring process and HR?
While Travelablity used the Economic Model of Disability for Inclusive Tourism, this model can be applied to recruitment strategies for job candidates with disability. More employers are branding their companies to market themselves to job seekers.

The hiring process has become more directed to the candidate’s experience through the hiring process. Companies’ careers pages are designed to show job seekers to learn about company and convince them to apply for them. Some companies have an diversity page dedicated to  prospective employees on how a company is open to diversity. However,  if companies do not  think about the of a disabled job seeker experience, companies would lose competitive edge when not paying attention this group.

Using the Economic Model of Disability for Hiring

For too long, the medical and social models of disability to satisfy  hiring needs. Hiring people with disabilities needs to be more than ticking the hiring quota. Hiring people with disabilities would help employers understand the the untapped market of customers with disability. Using the Economic model of Disability would force employers to think out of box to keep up with the market. Creating recruitment strategies to recruit qualified people with disabilities would enhance innovation and inclusion in organizations.

Conclusion

Disability inclusion is not just a social issue. It is economic issue that organizations should take into consideration when implementing recruitment strategies. I urge organizations to think beyond just the two models of disability and embrace the benefits that the economic models has to offer.

Resources

Originally posted on Linkedin.