What the Popularity of Closed Captions Tells Us About the Value of  Making Accomodations

Twenty years ago when I was leading web production teams, we had to ensure our sites were compatible for people with slower browsers, screen readers and any other accommodations. At the time, I remember feeling like this was far too much effort for a relatively small population. Eventually I realized the problem with this mindset and began to understand how many people are left behind when technology is not accessible.

In the WSJ this week, there was a feature story about how closed captions (once seen solely as an accommodation for the hearing impaired) are hugely popular among multitasking young people who prefer to leave them on for all videos. The story is a great reminder for us all that making things more accessible doesn’t only benefit those who have a disability. When you take the time to create something that is accessible by those who need the most help, you often end up creating a better experience for everyone.