This week is recognized as International Week of the Deaf or Deaf Awareness Week, and its purpose is to increase public awareness of deaf issues, people, and culture.
The second language I learned was ASL (American Sign Language), and my mom tells me I used to sign in my sleep instead of talking out loud. I was glad to utilize signing again when I started baby signing with my children. It really proves how natural it can feel to communicate with your hands when you see a 10-month old baby asking for things using sign language. Signing has been particularly helpful with my son who has a speech impairment. I’ve seen the words poop and milk signed by him more than I’ve heard him say them verbally.
Making CaringBridge Accessible
Here at CaringBridge, I’m a designer with a passion for making sure our free websites are accessible to everyone, regardless of any kind of physical or cognitive disability or impairment. I want to make sure everyone who visits CaringBridge feels welcome and is able to access our content.
I focus most of my time thinking about web accessibility for those using assistive technologies like screen readers because of a vision impairment or blindness. International Week of the Deaf is a good time for me to reflect on the special challenges our hearing impaired or deaf visitors may experience when using CaringBridge, or surfing the web in general.
When creating experiences on our website, we have to keep in mind special considerations for our hearing impaired visitors. We should never use sounds as feedback or confirmation of actions. All videos should be closed-captioned. In simplest terms, anything that’s available to hearing people should be available to those who can’t hear.
Learn How it Feels to Be Hearing Impaired
To understand what it feels like to be hearing impaired or deaf, challenge yourself this week to try a few things with the sound turned off on your phone, tablet or computer. Here’s a few ideas:
- Watch a few CaringBridge YouTube videos using only closed captioning (select the CC icon).
- Watch your favorite television program or movie with the sound off and closed captioning turned on.
- If you frequently use voice-to-text option for texting, try typing everything for a day.
- Leave your phone on silent mode all day.