Image of many people participating in a worship song with closed captioning enabled at the bottom of the screen to read the lyrics as they are sung.

Have You Turned on Closed Captioning on Zoom?

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Recently, I was on a zoom call with a number of participants I did not know well. As we started the meeting, the host welcomed us to the gathering. I was participating alongside my boss, the director of CRC Disability Concerns, and he asked the host to enable closed captioning. The host did a quick scan of the participants and noted that none of them needed the service. In his typically humble but encouraging way, my boss gently asked the host to rethink that perspective. 

Closed captioning (or live transcript) would fall under the concept of universal design. Universal design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. (https://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/) Basically, while closed captioning may be considered a feature that people with hearing challenges may need to participate fully,  it is actually a feature that benefits all of us! 

David G. Myers and Morton Ann Gernsbacher have written an excellent article (Captioning for All) that explores the many benefits of closed captioning. Take time to review their article. Here are a few key points they note:

  • Captions help hearing children learn to read. 
  • Captions enhance comprehension for those viewing in their second language.
  • Captions boost attention and memory. 

Next time that you host a zoom meeting, enable the closed captioning/live transcript feature, knowing that you are actively participating in supporting universal design for everyone you in your meeting!

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