As the Presidential elections approach an entire group of people will be left out of the race. They will be unaware of the stance from each candidate; they will not fully understand the issues surrounding the campaigns and the few ads they do understand will shape their votes, even though many are begging to be more educated about the people on the ballot. This group is 50 million strong. In 2012, about 130 million people voted. If all of the Deaf people in America voted in that election, 40% of the votes passed were from voters who likely checked the box next to the name they saw most and not the person who represented their beliefs.
The Deaf and hard of hearing community is being left out of political races, national emergencies and general information about the world around them ever day. Deaf and Hearing Network LLC (DHN) solves this issue by providing the news in American Sign Language, spoken English and captions. By providing three forms of accessibility our network is able to reach all types of Deaf people and inform them in a factual and ethical way, about what is going on in the world.
The simple fix of improved captioning or more diverse coverage would not be enough. Of those 50 million Deaf people almost all of them struggle to understand basic English, which is not their first language. The Deaf education system continues to debate how to teach Deaf children and has left us with a community that still cannot understand the most basic of information. By providing the content in ASL, people are able to watch and understand the world in their native language. For those who would prefer English and do not sign, DHN provides accurate captioning. Currently only the top 25 television markets provide live closed-captioning. In all of the other 210 markets the news is captioned by uploading a prewritten script. This means that any live changes or updates to the script as well as breaking news are NOT captioned. If an error is made in the written script that is fixed by the anchor when speaking, Deaf people would be none the wiser. I challenge you with a bit of homework after reading this proposal. Go home tonight and watch the 10 o’clock newscast with captions only. Watch as the captions continue to discuss a robbery while a fire is shown on the screen, or as they scroll by too quickly because the person on the other end typing had a sudden burst of energy. Worst of all, watch as the last HALF of almost every story is cut off so the captioner can move onto the next story they are already behind on.
DHN has been around in the Deaf community for about one year. We are looking to grow into more than just a news agency. We are in the final stages of a deal with a national cable company to get into 22 million homes, thanks to their on-demand platform. Here we will expand the news show we just discussed and add in more ASL video content. However, without the proper funding none of this will be possible. See examples of our work at WatchDHN.com.