I attended an #event earlier this week where #captions were projected on a screen for the whole audience which was great. In the end an event organizer thanked a captioner (whom they hired to provide captions based on my recommendation) and thanked me for #consulting them and also recommended attendees that they contact me for consulting on how to make their events #accessible.

As the organizer was about to wrap up the event, a woman raised her hand to announce an event she's hosting about #speech technologies. I got annoyed and was even about to raise a hand to say that they do not replace human #captioners or #interpreters!

I was on my way out and that woman grabbed me and told me I should attend her event. I told her that I was in rush to catch train and suggested that she email me.

After I got her email and read the details of the event, I told her that I would need a captioner to listen to presenters and a sign language interpreter to voice for me during QA and networking parts. I also explained to her that speech technologies do not replace human access providers. She told me that one of speakers has a speech problem and would use a device and suggested that I do the same. I told her that not everyone's needs are same and that event organizers are responsible by the #ADA law to make their events accessible and to ask attendees if they have any access needs.

She told me she runs a non profit and doesn't have a budget. I told her that the event she saw me at is also run by a non profit and its organizers hired a captioner. She told me she's a volunteer and I told her that I've been to free events hosted by volunteers who manage to have their #sponsors pay for accessibility. I also pointed to her that her event has sponsors like BOA, PWC, Microsoft, etc. If sponsors can pay for food or rental, they can also pay for accessibility.

She told me: "If you know someone at Microsoft that provides the equipment I'm happy to approach them."

facepalm

I told her that if she could manage to ask sponsors to cover other things for her event, she can also ask them to cover accessibility. She doesn't seem to realize that her event is among hundreds that deaf people are interested in attending but often denied communication access. She cannot expect deaf people to find sponsors for her. Its not fair for deaf attendees to do more work than hearing attendees. It's a sole responsibility of an event organizer to contact sponsors. Deaf people can only refer them to good quality captioning and interpreting services.

Also, captioners and interpreters are humans, not "equipments"!

What upset me most is that the woman invited me to her event but refused to make it accessible to me. She has also known me for many years from attending events where she's seen me using captioning and interpreting services paid for by event organizers and/or their sponsors. She also knows me as a public speaker and an #accessibility consultant.

It's frustrating for us people with #disabilities when non-disabled people tell us how inspired they are by us without actually doing anything to make their world accessible to us. We should not have to overcome unnecessary barriers that non-disabled people could have easily removed. That's why it's called "#inspiration porn". We already do enough efforts to adapt to non-disabled people and use the maximum of our abilities. We don't need pity - we need respect and full and equal access.

Hearing people take for granted the ease of attending any event they want anytime and anywhere. They sadly don't realize how often they exclude deaf people when organizing events and how often and how many deaf people have to spend time and energy fighting for full and equal access at events.

To learn more about how to make your events accessible, contact me for consulting and training: audio-accessibility.com/services
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