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Professor creates closed captioning radio service for the deaf

By Caitlin Meyd, The Towerlight-Towson University 3/3/2013

The Deaf Studies program is the reason senior Rachel Wirtz chose Towson. Wirtz said she believes in equal access for everyone, despite disabilities, and said Towson has been working to provide this. One example is associate professor Ellyn Sheffield’s collaboration with NPR to start a new radio captioning technology. She, and NPR’s Mike Starling, are co-directors of the University’s International Center for Accessible Radio Technology(ICART).

The first radio program to use the equal access distribution technology was Latino USA Feb. 22. Broadcasting on more than 100 public radio stations, captioned-radio public media broadcasts allow access to radio to a target audience of nearly seven million people in the United States who are deaf and hard of hearing. ICART started developing the program in 2007.

Deaf Studies Major Michaela Nesmith said she never heard of radio captions until recently but thinks it will be useful.

“I think it’s cool they’re using other media other than just TV,” she said. “”It’s pretty cool that they’re reaching out to do that.”

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