Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Seek Captions On Ads


New Member - Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Seek Captions On Ads

This time of year it's hard to flip on the TV without getting bombarded by political ads.

At the rate some of these ads are blazing up the airwaves, it can be a downright scary time when it comes to sorting it all out. This is especially true for voters who are deaf or hard of hearing -- when ads don't include closed captioning.

"I don't understand why they don't include closed captioning on it, " said Ron, a deaf voter who plans to vote. "Perry as Governor knows there's a large deaf contingent here in Austin and his ads should be closed captioned, and he knows that."

But 'knows that' and 'does that' -- as CBS 42's Leslie Coons found out -- are 2 very different things.

According to Robert Black, a representative from the Rick Perry for Governor campaign office -- none of their ads contain closed captioning. But there is a link on their website to help inform the deaf and hard of hearing.

At the Strayhorn and Bell campaigns, closed captioning is a key part of their ads .

"With the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin -- a school that's nationally known -- we understand you need to be understanding to all constituents needs," said a representative from the Chris Bell campaign.

As for Kinky Friedman, his campaign representative said their ads aren't captioned and had no further comment.

For thousands of deaf Texans, election time can be a time of great confusion. Ron Hovina, a student at Austin Community College says simply having a link on a web page isn't enough. Many deaf people may not even know how to find it.

"I feel because there's no captioning or interpreters in some ways we are behind," he said.

Hovina and millions of other deaf individuals speak with their hands using American Sign Language. While captioning in these ads may help, Hovina says he's never voted and doesn't plan to this time either. That's quite a contrast to his wife

She says she's lost interest because candidates have lost sight of her needs and the needs of thousands of others.

"They need to understand us as a deaf people, deaf community and deaf culture," she told Coons.

In the race for Texas attorney general -- only one candidate is running a TV ad -- incumbent Greg Abbott.

No stranger to adversity, Abbott is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair -- l1eading some to ask why his ads don't make it easy for others with disabilities.

When asked why there's no closed captioning on the ads -- the Abbott campaign said their production company never offered it to them as an option.

The other attorney general candidates -- David Van Os and Jon Roland are not running TV ads.

By law closed captioning isn't required on political ads. But those in the deaf community say its absence speaks volumes. On the website for the National Association of the Deaf (NAD)there are guidelines.

The Federal Election Commission only requires captioning for presidential candidates who receive federal funding. But NAD encourages all political campaigns to caption their ads voluntarily -- including state and local campaigns.