Dear Donald Trump:
People who are deaf and hard of hearing need to thank you. Years ago, I contacted you about the horrific captions on the The Apprentice. My daughter, who is hard of hearing, was learning poor spelling and getting confusing input when she watched your show. For example, "Bordeaux" (you know, the small French region where wine is made) was spelled like two animals: "boar" and "doe."
Your office staff didn't care when I contacted them, nor did your production team, Mark Burnett Productions. In fact, I learned that the Burnett team never reviewed the captions. The woman whose job it was to do this told me that I was "stressing her out" by complaining.
So, I contacted Bob Wright, the then-chairman of NBC. Thankfully, he cared--his personal experience with autism enabled him to understand the impact that poor quality captions had on my daughter and others like her. NBC assigned a team to the issue, and we worked hard together to develop captioning standards. It is my understanding that NBC became the first network to insert such standards into their contracts; before this, captions bids were accepted based solely on price. This change forced some captioning companies to upgrade their equipment.
The National Park Service used NBC's standards in its "Programmatic Accessibility Guidelines for National Park Service Interpretive Media," and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) followed suit in its "The Benefits of Closed Captioning Commercials." We used both of these as evidence that standards should be mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. The new FCC captioning standards are likely to mirror the ANA recommendations.
You needn't worry about my daughter--she learned from this experience not to accept crumbs from those who think that people with disabilities don't deserve the best the world has to offer. So thank you for galvanizing me into helping to change the world for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Janice Schacter Lintz
Janice S. Lintz is an accomplished consultant/advocate across the hearing access, advocacy and related political spectrum. She is the CEO of Hearing Access & Innovations, which is the only company dedicated to helping the world's businesses, cultural and entertainment institutions, government agencies, and mass transit organizations improve their accessibility for people with hearing loss.