Accessibility : Universal Design

I recently attended an open captioned film this weekend with a group of Deaf and Hard of Hearing friends after HLAA Conference. Viewing the film will subtitles was a vastly more enjoyable and relaxing experience. All I knew before was attending movies with typical hearing peers and resigning to the fact I would only get a percentage of the dialog and would wait till the DVD release to watch and fully understand the film. As a result, I rarely saw films in theaters, feeling cheated out of my money. With current trends in film making often includes cutaways from faces and voice over narrations, subtitles are becoming indispensable. I often rely on lipreading in less than ideal listening environments so movie going has in the past been a frustrating experience for me.

Open captions solve all these problems and benefit everyone. Currently, Deaf and Hard of Hearing patrons are required to request Open Caption showings. For other films, theaters provide caption glasses (if you’re lucky) or a bulky reflective mirror to display.

I love how this article talks about how designers can solve accessibility problems through design,

“Inclusive design and universal design go beyond accessibility minimum requirements and attempt to provide environments, products and services that cater for everyone’s own unique abilities. One accessibility area that is constantly overlooked is captioning and audio descriptions in media.”

The article also connects open captions to the field of Universal design, defining it:

Open captions align well to the field of universal design. Universal design has been described as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
The seven principles of universal design include: Equitable use, Flexibility in use, Simple and intuitive use, Perceptible information, Tolerance for error, Low physical effort, Size and space for approach and use

Articles like these are encouraging that in the future we will have a more accessible world.