ON HAND: Deaf at captioning companies

This originally appeared in The Tactile Mind Weekly in Trudy’s ON HAND column.

The recent publicity about a captioner screwing up a television report about Federal Reserve Board Chairperson Alan Greenspan’s enlarged prostate when she mistakenly typed “enlarged prostitute” got me thinking about the captioning industry and its job opportunities.

How come I don’t know of any Deaf person that works for the major captioning companies? Isn’t that odd?

I asked a few of my Deaf friends who work in prominent positions within the Deaf community: relay administration, education, and so on, to see if it was just me. None of them knew anyone who worked for the major companies.

This perplexes me. Deaf people are involved at practically every level when it comes to captioning issues, consumer, advocacy, and legislation. Where are the deaf people at the administration or even entry levels within these captioning companies?

I’m not quite sure why there seems to be very few or no deaf employees. Maybe, as evident from the dumbing down of captions on shows like SESAME STREET, the captioning companies think our language or communication skills aren’t qualified for whatever position within their companies. Or maybe Deaf people just haven’t applied for jobs at these companies.

I have about twenty different theories about why there aren’t Deaf employees, but I’ll spare you. Whatever the reason–captioning is an essential part of our lives; it’d be terrific if we could give back to these companies.

Perhaps, after this story runs, I’ll find out about a Deaf employee at a captioning company. I certainly hope so.

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