The Deaf Approve New Radio



Being a sucker for nifty, creative and unusual uses of technology, I’ve been following the whole “radio for the deaf” story since it was first announced. I think the approach is really innovative and interesting, not to mention the fact that if mainstreamed, it could open up an entirely new demographic for radio.

During the election it got a road test, and now the results are in.

Via Marketwatch:

While millions of U.S. citizens voted for national and local elections last week, some of the nation’s deaf and hard of hearing citizens were casting important votes on the future of captioned radio broadcasts — new technology designed to enable them to experience live radio coverage for the first time. The results — more than three-quarters of people who are deaf and hard of hearing indicated that they would be interested in purchasing captioned radio displays after watching live demonstrations of the technology last week at seven locations around the United States. The election night broadcast demonstrations were made possible by NPR, Harris Corporation and Towson University.

I guess it’s popular. The numbers across the board are quite encouraging:

  • 95% were pleased with the captioning accuracy
  • 77% stated interest in purchasing a captioned radio display unit when it becomes available
  • 86% stated interest in purchasing a ‘dual-view’ screen display for a car (a screen displaying the captions to the passenger of a vehicle)

Of course, being a New Orleanian, this result immediately caught my interest:

Demonstration participants also showed a strong desire to rely upon captioned radio in emergency situations — on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extremely important, they ranked emergency notifications at 9.6 when asked what types of information would be important to receive through captioned radio broadcasts. General news came in second at 8.0.

Now that is, surprisingly, an aspect I had not considered. Having been through the chaos of several hurricane evacuations, I can only imagine how horrible they must be for someone unable to access most broadcast news channels. Factor in the digital divide and suddenly this project begins to look like a lot more than recreation.

Photo courtesy of shareski, used under its Creative Commons license


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