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Food for Thought: When Required, We Will Do It!

July 28, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

As I was reading today’s Mountain Wings daily inspirational e-mail, I noticed a link next to an explanation for their not being any printable text sermons available. The link pointed to a frequently asked questions document containing the following language:

Q: Is a printed version available?

A: We thoroughly understand that many have hearing problems or don’t have computers with sound or environments conducive to listening. The problem is simply resources. We don’t have the available time (or energy) to transcribe each sermon, format it properly, link it and upload it. It’s all that we can do to get the spoken versions edited and uploaded for TheOnLineWord and the many parts of VirtualChurch.com. Although thousands listen regularly, very very few donate to help and it takes resources (money) to do things and transcribing sermons and the many associated tasks with putting written sermons on the web are some of those things. Once we begin “Closed Captioning” on our television broadcasts, and we won’t do that until the FCC requires it for our broadcasts, then we may have printed versions available.

The very last sentence struck me immediately! Closed captioning won’t be provided until it is required by the FCC. Sadly, this sort of thinking is all too common when it comes to accessibility. Companies don’t want new laws requiring that they spend additional resources to become accessible. Industry groups tell us that they understand accessibility is the right thing to do, and promise that, over time, they will become more and more accessible. At the same time, most people simply don’t seem to feel obligated to do something or, for that matter, to stop doing something, unless they are compeled by one or more laws. Only if there are going to be serious negative consequences will they make the choice to tow the line, comply and simply do whatever the law requires. Most people falling into this category are similar to the “not my jobbers” I wrote about yesterday. While most of the world around us is largely inaccessible, there are small exceptions. Is the reason for this state of affairs related to the differences between the plain Jane average person and those who decide to excel, going way above average? Are the above average people in this world more likely to design their products and services so that they are accessible? Is the ultimate answer to accessibility advocacy simply the passage of more and more laws to which we can simply force the average people to comply so they will avoid facing the punishment for not doing so? This is just more food for thought for a quiet Thursday evening. Anyone have any ideas?

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