Create Standout Brands for Business Owners Who are Ready to Play Bigger

Accessibility for Online Business Owners

Resources + Information
to help you create accessible content

 
Photo by  Jeremy Perkins  on  Unsplash

The Purpose of this page

I’ve been doing research to learn what business owners know and would like to learn about creating accessible content. As I gather responses and learn more, I’ll be adding resources and info to this page. I’m also working on creating a resource guide, and will be sharing the progress here too. I’ll happily share any statistics that I gather from this survey because I think it’ll be eye opening for people to see how others have responded.

Introduction

Hi, I’m Erin Perkins, owner of Mabely Q and I’m a deaf business owner. The purpose of this page is to provide resources and information that will make it easier to create content that is accessible to the deaf community. But first, a little bit about my story and why I created this page:

When I started my online business over a year ago. I was a little unsure about the obstacles I would face in the online business world as a deaf person. For the most part, operating online has actually made things easier for me because I’m essentially communicating with all my clients via email, texting, slack, etc. There are many different ways to communicate, and it has been a fantastic experience thus far!

Soon after I launched my business, I started thinking big, and wanted to find a coach or online courses to take my business to the next level. However, I started to realize that a lot of the content I was considering investing in wasn’t entirely accessible to me. Many of the programs I looked into involved Facebook live videos or the courses modules would be purely video content with no captions or transcripts. When I came across programs like this, my response wasn’t: “OMG why didn’t they think about this?”  It was more like: “how can I get them to find VALUE in making sure their content is accessible.”

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I started asking these content creators if they could add captions to their videos or provide me with transcripts. Anything that leveled the playing field.

Here are some of the responses I’ve gotten:

 
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For the most part, the response has overall been pretty positive. One course I took made sure that all the videos had transcripts to go along with the videos. Another course has been captioning all her videos, even after the Facebook Lives. Both of these courses also host live coaching via Zoom which is awesome because Zoom has a call in number where I can connect via relay, and an interpreter will interpret everything for me! The programs I have invested in personally have been willing to make accommodations so the content accessible to me. I know that many business owners are interested in this, but don’t know how to go about it.

 

Resources

Audio to Text Automation in 5 minutes

Submit: Upload any audio or video file. They accept all file types.

Edit: Review your transcript with timestamps and speakers.

Download: Save & export your transcript as MS Word, PDF, SRT, VTT and more.

.10 per audio minute

App available via IOS and Google Play


Otter turns your voice conversations into smart notes that you can easily search and share. You can use it to take notes at your meetings and interviews, capture your thoughts and ideas while you’re driving in the car, and transcribe your existing recordings and podcasts.

600 minutes for free per month. 6,000 minutes per month for $9.99/month or $99.99/year

There are 3 different ways to use this app: Record Live Conversations, Import Existing Recordings, Sync Meeting Recordings

If you have a Zoom Pro, Business, or Enterprise plan, you can turn all your Zoom cloud recordings into Otter conversations automatically.

Personal Experience using Otter: This is by no means not a perfect solution but it’s made my life easier in several different ways. For instance, I’ve used it at a live conference, it worked pretty well for the most part. I was able to understand the speakers a little more than I would have if I was just trying to listen. I could also relax. I’ve also used it during online webinars where there’s no call in option, and it’s super helpful for me. Especially when we’ve got those quiet talkers!

App available via IOS and Google Play


Audio to Video Solution

Audio Transcription: Automatically transcribe audio for perfectly captioned videos

Video Transcription: Automatically transcribe your video to easily add captions


Automatic Captions embedded into your videos

Quicc’s caption engine automatically transcribes your videos, allows for quick edits, then embeds the captions onto your video. Quicc can transcribe and process captions on videos in just a few minutes so you can move on with your day!

Pricing: Newcomer @ $12/month for 10 minutes, Growth @ $35/month for 35 minutes, Producer @ $80/month for 80 minutes


Please note that this app is only available via the macOS App.
SpeedScriber transforms transcription for content creators by combining the unique capabilities of our macOS app with the performance and scalability of our cloud-based transcription service. Import, Transcribe, Edit and Export.

Pricing: 30 minutes for $15; 120 minutes for $60; 300 minutes for $141. This has a sliding scale. You are not locked into a monthly subscription.


Please note this app is only available via the macOS App.

Clipomatic is a smart video editor that turns all you say into live captions. All you have to do is hit the magical record button, speak clearly and your words will appear in a form of a stylish caption right on your recording.

Record captions in different languages (30+) & customize them on the go!

Personal Experience using Clipomatic: I don’t think the app likes me very much only because it’s hard talking and signing at the same time. But lots of my business counterparts use it, and for that I’m super grateful because now I’m able to keep up with what they’re doing, and support them. Seeing captions on Instagram videos has enabled me to interact and become more involved with various people via direct message!

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Frequently Asked Questions

These are the answers to the most common questions I’ve gotten about making content accessible, and also about my experience being deaf. (You can also catch my video responses in my Instagram story highlights)

Please keep in mind that every deaf person is unique, and my answers here are from my perspective. (I will ask some of my deaf friends to share their perspective as well, but my answer is not the end all be all.)The type of “deaf” person I am falls under the category that I’m able to speak and hear. I do wear a cochlear implant (very rarely these days) as well as a hearing aid.  The reference I use is my experience, and what I’ve gone through personally. Please feel free to email me at erin@mabelyq.com if you feel like something isn’t being answered.

 

About Being Deaf

+ Can you read lips?

Yes and no. I do find it helpful to see someone’s face as I can hear them and semi-read their lips. I definitely rely more on my hearing to put the pieces of the “puzzle” together. There are some deaf people that are really good at reading lips, others can’t at all.

+ Were you born deaf?

I was born deaf. I was actually born with a condition called Usher’s Syndrome which is a condition characterized by partial or total hearing loss and vision loss that worsens over time. The loss of vision is caused by an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which affects the layer of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina). I have perfect central vision, but very minimal peripheral vision, I see a total of 50 degrees all around, while a normal person sees 180 degrees. Best way for me to explain it is - it is tunnel vision. I grew up wearing hearing aids, and took speech therapy until about 6th grade. Then was diagnosed at the age of 21 with Usher’s Syndrome. When I was 29, I opted to get a cochlear implant on my left side, and it’s improved my communication, however, it’s caused me to have many headaches, so I honestly HATE my cochlear but will wear it if I need to. I’m one of the FEW people that will fully admit that I hate the cochlear implant. The reason why I got it was because I wanted to have a back-up in case I did actually lose all my vision (there’s no way for me to tell how my vision will progress)

+ Is sign language a universal language that all deaf people use to communicate?

There are different sign language in different countries. Some signs are similiar, others are very different. Or there may be a sign that has a completely different meaning. Often times, if both parties put effort forth in understanding what the other is saying. It’s not perfect, but we can hold pretty lengthy conversations.

Another thing I'd like to note, there are even different nuances of specific signs depending on which part of the U.S. you are from. It's kind of like speaking with an accent, but we sign with an accent!

+ In person, is it helpful to try and communicate with very broken ASL or is it just off putting and frustrating?

It’s not off-putting per se… I appreciate the effort, but sometimes it can make communication more complicated than necessary. For example, growing up, my aunt was the only one outside of my immediate family that made the effort to sign. But she signed so slow that there were definitely times when I would think , “OMG please hurry up or just talk!”

When someone does make an effort to try to sign, it’s fine, but don’t say that you know ASL. Just say you have picked up a couple things. I’d ask the person how they’d best want to communicate.

+ Do you appreciate it when people slow down to speak or does it annoy you or feel patronizing?

It’s not patronizing, but I’ve had to tell people to slow down because I wasn’t able to keep up with what they were saying. But if you start talking in slow motion, that’s patronizing.

+ Do you listen to music?

I do listen to music. Most of my favorite stuff is from the 90’s cuz I was born in the 80’s and 90’s music rocks!! Most of my friends also do listen to music as well. It varies as to what kind though. I definitely like Pop music - easy for me to understand. Some deaf people like Rap, Hip Hop, Techno. Our tastes varies just as much as yours does!

+ Do you see being deaf as its own culture?

Deaf does have its own culture. Here’s a snippet: American Deaf culture centers on the use of ASL and identification and unity with other people who are Deaf. A Deaf sociolinguist, Dr. Barbara Kannapel, developed a definition of the American Deaf culture that includes a set of learned behaviors of a group of people who are deaf and who have their own language (ASL), values, rules, and traditions.

About my experience as a business owner:

+ Is it a frustrating experience to feel like content is not designed for you?

I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating because it’s NORMAL to me. I’m used to not having the same access as everyone else. It’s like going out to a restaurant or trying to order food from a drive through, it’s not designed for me. I’ve always been able to adapt, but truth be told, sometimes it’s tiring. I do get tired of always trying to adapt, but that’s what makes me me.

+ What areas of business do you feel are least accessible for you?

Lately it’s podcasts, I think there’s SO much amazing content that’s being shared via podcasts and it’s something I miss out on COMPLETELY!

+ I encounter video chats as a first step to working together, how can I make these meetings be equally productive, or have you ever navigated this area and how do you think it can be made better?

Yes, I do video chats with all my clients. For the most part, I’ve been fortunate that I understand most of my clients. But I’ve had a few that have had heavy accents (Russian, Spanish, Australian…) and that poses so much more of a challenge for me. The best way is to utilize Zoom. Make sure that there is a call in number for your deaf counterpart, then we can use that number to dial in via the relay (ZVRS, Purple, Convo, Sorenson, etc). This will connect us with an interpreter that will call in and they can hear you speak and be able to interpret what you’re saying.

It’s worked fairly well for me because I’m able to fully participate, I can also speak for myself. The interpreter can also speak for me if I choose to do so. I often prefer they don’t, but others do. Always remember to speak to the person as if you were just speaking to them, don’t even think about the interpreter!

+ What makes a learning experience joyful for you?

Being able to learn with EASE. Not having to put in any more effort in than you do.

+ What are some of the most obvious ways to be inclusive to the deaf community that are easily missed?

At a live event, I’ve had interpreters join me and walk around with me to make sure I’m able to be a part of the conversation, however, a lot of people tend to look at the interpreter while speaking to me. I often find myself telling them to pretend they are not there. The interpreter’s job is just to interpret for me… they aren’t offended.

Miscellaneous

+ Presenting visual language as translation that is not sign, re: pictures etc.

I will say that deaf people are SUPER visual. So using illustrations, videos, gifs, definitely add a bit more to your content. Reading can be exhausting sometimes!

+ How do you see tech changing to better serve the deaf community? Do you feel social media apps are facilitating the incorporation of more accessible content or the opposite?

In some ways I feel like it’s changing for the better, but it can also be a HUGE struggle. It’s not something that’s top of mind for any of these technology apps as they develop these new technology pieces. Instagram was great at first because it was just pictures. Then Instagram Stories happened and became SUPER popular, but for the longest time I just skipped a lot of videos because I didn’t understand anything, nor did I have a desire to turn the volume on.

Facebook also has been great in regards to groups! I’ve been SUPER active in a lot of Facebook groups because it really only requires me to be interactive via typing. But now live videos is becoming a trend, and that has been a bit frustrating on my end.

+ How do I make you feel included and not different while not trying to make you feel that way?

For me, being inclusive is to be sure I can see your lips and face, don’t put your back to me, paraphrase if necessary, keep me included in conversations, recognize if I’m hanging back and being left out. Be conscious of the environment we are in and be aware that I may not be understanding everything that you’re saying. I am able to hear a lot but it doesn’t necessarily understand everything. Being in a hearing environment does become exhausting and it expends my energy, so sometimes we just drop back because it wears us out!

Online, being inclusive is making sure you caption or summarize what you’ve said in videos/podcasts.

Also don’t assume I can hear like a hearing person because I can do so well with hearing and talking. It can get frustrating when you realize how many times people forget that I’m deaf.

+ As a hearing person how do I start to share on IG and my website that I’m fluent in ASL? I want to be more accessible but I don’t want it looking like marketing/sales pitchy to the deaf community because it’s not.

I always say be authentic. Be true to who you are. If you're trying to bring in a new audience, talk about your intentions. Talk about your experience. Talk about how you ended up learning ASL, it's always cool to learn how people ended up learning ASL!

Additional Remarks

If you would like to help me in any way with the creation of this resource guide, or put me in contact with anyone that you think would be able to provide value, I’m open to it! This is a collective effort, and I also want to thank everyone for taking the time to do the survey. It means so much to me!

 

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