First, I live far from Kew and don’t come up to London. But, more importantly, I would need to see the speaker’s words on screen, or have an amanuensis to write it all down, and so I will not – alas – be attending a talk at TNA or an outreach venue. Having been profoundly deaf for over 30 years, I have come to an accommodation with myself as to what is possible, and what is not. Though transcription systems exist, they are expensive; I do not use sign language; and if, at a meeting, I ask whoever is sitting next to me to write down at least the key points, it is very much ‘pot luck’ – some are brilliant, some reluctant.
Therefore I would like to suggest that talks are made available like podcasts; and that all talks and podcasts are released with the option of subtitles. The wonders of the internet mean that TNA’s reach is now worldwide, and so there may be many people out there who would find it helpful to follow a talk with subtitles – folk whose grasp of English may be shaky, and those like me who simply cannot hear a human voice.
I have found that communicating via the internet, e.g. in a forum such as this, creates a level playing field. The words are all there on the screen. Fantastic! I do not have to mention my deafness, because it does not impact on what I am doing. And that is wonderful. So, please, can we have subtitles? Thank you.