Yad HaChazakah Advocates for Closed Captioning

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Written by Ellen Applebaum, Hamodia

By now, the Tisha B’Av programs of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation are a well-known part of this meaningful day. Last year for the first time, the option to order DVDs with captioning – the spoken words written onscreen – was made available, and this year, too, CCHF will produce and provide captioned films for those venues that request them.

In between last year and this year is a story.

A deaf couple, Mr. Samuel Landau and Mrs. Rachel Landau, had been  urging the captioning these videos, and in 2011, the Landaus – and others in the Jewish deaf and hearing impaired community – were finally able to take part in the Tisha B’Av event. The Landaus arranged for captioned videos at the JEC in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

“As we are deaf, we were happily surprised to get the email about CCHF having captions on Tisha B’Av 5771,” Mrs. Landau said.

Then, the disappointment: Mr. and Mrs. Landau learned that the option might not be available this year.

And so they approached Mrs. Sharon Shapiro-Lacks, Executive Director of Yad HaChazakah-JDEC. Led by Jews with disabilities, Yad HaChazakah-JDEC promotes access to Jewish community life for people with hidden or obvious disabilities, or ongoing conditions. The organization does this by providing, guidance, resource information, advocacy, and other kinds of support.

Mrs. Shapiro-Lacks and Mrs. Landau wrote to Michael Rothschild of the CCHF, urging the organization to provide captioning program again this year. They responded immediately and affirmatively to this advocacy.

‘“The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation is, thank G-d, one of those organizations that wants to reach many Jews,” says Mrs. Shapiro. “It’s in their interest — and it’s in the community’s interest — to provide captioning.”

To order such a DVD is as simple as checking a box on the order form that says, “DVD with subtitles for the hearing-impaired.” Indeed, the captioning feature allows the videos’ important messages to reach even more Jews than before.

How large is the Jewish deaf and hard-of-hearing community? About 17 percent of the general public in the United States – 36 million — has some kind of hearing loss. That statistic, applied to the American Jewish community, translates to about 1.1 million people. But the number of people who benefit from captioning goes beyond those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“People think, oh, we don’t have any hearing-impaired people in our shul or in our nearby community – why do we need captioning?” notes Mrs. Shapiro-Lacks. “They don’t think, first of all, that their bubby might fit into this category, or someone who is a ‘visual learner,’ someone who takes information in more easily by seeing it rather than hearing it.”

There are 11 locations so far where programs will be shown with captioning, including London, England; Staten Island, New York; Brooklyn, New York; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Teaneck, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; North Hollywood, Florida; and Panama City, Panama;

Mrs. Shapiro-Lacks writes, “We applaud CCHF for captioning their videos. If you know of a venue that might screen these films on Tisha B’Av, please urge them to order the captioned videos and then attend.” Those who want Yad HaChazakah-JDEC to advocate with them should please email access@yadempowers.org or call 646-723-3955.

Link to tha actual article in Hamodia


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