How remote captioning has transformed the careers of two deaf employees

Posted on December 11, 2014

Earlier this week, our supporter Ai-Media was mentioned in the House of Lords. Here, two deaf people who use their services write about their lives and careers. To find out more about remote captioning, click here.

Nikki Crocker

Nikki Crocker Testimonial Photo.docx

Live captioning has always been something I’ve dreamed of. Despite becoming profoundly deaf at the age of 7, I continued to attend a mainstream school, often struggling through classes with just the teacher and my family for support.

At university, a friend took all her notes using carbon paper for me; my evenings were spent studying these notes and filling in what gaps I had missed during the day time lectures.

Starting work in an international Pharmaceutical company was daunting. Initially, we only had thermal paper faxes and basic email; I had a pager when they first became available. The modern era has been one of the best possible to be deaf in, I dare say.

All styles of communication have moved forward in leaps and bounds; though the pinnacle for me has been live streaming of captions. I use a service called Ai-Live, and because of this, I not only attend teleconference meetings with other attendees from around the world, but I can even chair those meetings now.

Receiving word-for-word text via a live internet link on my work computer means that my captioners can be located anywhere in the world. They dial in to the same calls as I do; they empower me to participate as fully as my own knowledge allows.

The option to have this support via the Access To Work scheme in the UK – funded by my own government – has enabled me to deliver a more energised role in society than I envisioned twenty years ago. Special thanks as well to all the captioners at Ai-Media who make my working life so much easier!

Matthew Johnston

Matthew Johnston

I have been profoundly deaf since birth and have always worn hearing aids.

I graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Environmental Biology. I initially wanted to go into conservation management but the career prospects were very poor.

I therefore decided to enter computing – in order to avoid using the telephone for communication. I joined IBM in Hursley, near Winchester, where I worked for seven years as an application developer.

I enjoy new challenges, and subsequently began freelancing as an independent consultant. I worked for various companies in London over several years before joining Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf, where I worked for twelve years.

I continued working as a developer until I found out about speech–to-text reporting, which is funded by a Government scheme – Access To Work.

It meant I was able to fully participate in conference calls and large meetings. My confidence grew, and I took on more responsibilities. I eventually came to manage a global team with developers in New York and India, in addition to those in London.

At Morgan Stanley I was co-chairman of the European disABILITY Taskforce for five years, a group of employees who actively developed the disability agenda to become a ‘disability-confident workplace.’ I have always had a passion for helping fellow disabled people, and this was one of the most rewarding moments in my career so far.

When I discovered that remote captioning would allow me to arrange conference calls and meetings at short notice, I decided to join a small private company as a technical director.

My main role was meeting potential clients and looking after a team of consultants. As most consultants were at the client sites, remote captioning was very important for me to keep in touch with them constantly.

I am currently working for IG, a financial market trading company. I use both Ai-Live, remote captioning and speech-to-text reporting. Undoubtedly, they have allowed me to further enhance my career prospects and to work more confidently.

On a personal note, I am married with two boys. One is studying Medicine at King’s College, and the other is studying A Levels and is mad about rugby! I enjoy most sports, especially football and rugby, and I regularly go swimming in rivers, lakes and the sea.

I also swam as part of a three man relay team across the English Channel in 2012 (I had to put on 20lbs to insulate my body against the cold!). In addition to this, I also help to organise a swimming club, Durley Sea Swims in Bournemouth, where swimmers meet every weekend throughout the summer.

As I am passionate about helping disabled people in the workplace, I have joined Purple Space, an informal network of disability network leaders which focuses on the leadership skills required to generate positive change. We also work on developing the individual skills that disabled people need to become disability-confident at work.

I had a cochlear implant fitted last year and it has benefitted me enormously. I am more able to follow conversations, especially in noisy environments, although I still need to use speech-to-text and remote captioning. Because of this, I am more outgoing and more confident to do the things that were difficult if not impossible before.

Accessibility for deaf people in the workplace has progressed tremendously over the past few years. I also feel that the public perception of disabled people and disability has improved – especially after the London 2012 Paralympics. However, there remain challenges and hurdles for deaf people, such as applying for jobs through recruitment agencies, interview procedures and taking on senior roles in the workplace.

I look forward to a bright future for deaf people to advance their careers and become more entrepreneurial as barriers continue to be broken down.

To find out more about remote captioning from Ai-Live, go to:

This article is presented in association with Ai-Live, a support of Limping Chicken.

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