Silicon Flatirons Director Spurs Online Closed Captioning for the Deaf

March 9, 2010

Dale Hatfield, executive director of Colorado Law’s Silicon Flatirons Center, informed the Walt Disney Company of a need to include closed captioning of sign language conversations on all of its long form programs on ABC.com.During the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband inclusiveness field hearing at Gallaudet University in November 2009, deaf actress Marlee Matlin told the FCC that closed captions were being taken out of broadcast content being shown on the Internet, including her own performance on “Dancing with the Stars.”Upon hearing of this, Hatfield informed Disney of Matlin’s statements. In response, Disney expanded to include closed captions in all its long-form programs online at ABC.com, including its reality and live shows. Previously, the closed captioning only appeared on scripted comedies and dramas. Disney was the first television network to caption all of its online long programming.“Colorado Law's Silicon Flatirons Program and its Executive Director Dale Hatfield were instrumental in bringing about the online captioning of all ABC long-form programs nationwide,” said Preston R. Padden, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Governmental Relations at Disney. “This is just one example of the prominent and constructive role that Silicon Flatirons plays in national telecommunications and media policy."