By Ronen at Accredited Language Services 6/8/11
Closed captions are sometimes the only means through which individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can fully access, enjoy and experience entertainment events or broadcasts that the rest of the world may take for granted.
Unfortunately, in many cases, these means are denied them.
Sports games are just one type of event at which deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are too often neglected and excluded. With all of the commentary, announcements and music projected over loudspeakers for aural consumption, these individuals cannot adequately enjoy the experience of a game without captioned accounts of what others can hear.
The issue of making sporting events more accessible to fans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing has received increased attention over the past few years.
With lawsuits being filed against numerous teams (both collegiate and professional), those in charge of sports teams and the stadiums/arenas at which they play have been forced to make accommodations to ensure equal access for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
In view of the plaintiffs’ success in these cases, with judges ruling it unlawful for teams not to provide captioning for hearing-impaired fans, it is highly advisable that schools and other sports organizations enlist the help of professional captioning or subtitling services in order to accommodate the needs of all fans and avoid unnecessary legal bouts.
Washington Redskins: Precedent Set in the Nation’s Capital
The first notable instance in recent memory, in which deaf fans filed suit against a professional football team for its refusal to provide captions at home games, was in a 2006 lawsuit against the Washington Redskins.
The court found the Redskins guilty under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was enacted in 1990 and forbids discrimination against individuals with disabilities (which includes individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing among those protected).
The ruling was appealed, and despite the team’s agreement to provide closed-captioning on the scoreboard at Fed-Ex Field, the original verdict was upheld, finding the Redskins guilty for having refused the deaf fans’ initial requests.
Thus, the court of appeals set an important precedent and made it known that it is unlawful not to provide the deaf and hard-of-hearing with equal access to all game-related information.
Had the Redskins provided subtitles or captions in the stadium proper (i.e. on the scoreboard or jumbotron) and concourse areas in the first place, this costly legal battle might have been avoided.
Read the full article at http://www.alsintl.com/blog/hearing-impaired-sports-captions/ to learn more about:
Ohio State University: Failure to Learn from Precedent
University of Kentucky: One Last Call for Captions
– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax (6/12/11)