Sunday, April 18, 2021

2020 sucked, but there are a few little silver linings

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The consensus is that 2020 has been “the worst”. But there are reasons to look back on this year and find the unexpected silver liners of the forties, especially when it comes to how we connect with others.

None of these perks compare to the death, suffering, and misery of a terrible year, but here is a list of the little victories we can hold onto and nurture as we finally shake the dust of 2020 from our feet. .

We could go back and connect to work. Zoom fatigue is real, but working online shouldn’t be seen as an entirely temporary substitute for the office. Many disability advocates have for years asked employers to offer remote work as an option for jobs that can be done in this way. The pandemic has proven that some people really benefit from working from home and can be just as productive when they do.

“If your employees can be home and they want to be home, leave them,” says Vilissa Thompson, disability rights advocate and founder of Ramp Your Voice. While working from home can be very taxing for some, others – whether due to a disability, family or community needs – find it easier and more comfortable than working from home. a desk. Thompson is concerned that companies are too keen to bring everyone back to the office as vaccines become more widely available. “You really can’t say that some things don’t work anymore if they’re far away,” she says. “You saw it work.”

This applies to school and professional gatherings too, says Thompson. Students who have asked universities for options to attend distance learning courses now know that schools are designed for this. And virtual conferencing is more accessible in a number of ways, including financially: lower entry cost, no hotel bill, no travel.

Live video captioning has become a standard. Getting a captioned video was rare. Even when it was done, like on YouTube’s closed captioning option, the result was often insane. Add masks and video chats, and those who are hard of hearing or deaf find it nearly impossible to understand their peers. The pandemic made the need for live captioning much more urgent, and startups like Ava, as well as larger platforms like Zoom and Microsoft, incorporated live video captions that were often editable to improve readability.

Most notably, Instagram and other social platforms have started to incorporate closed captioning to enable people with hearing loss to understand pre-recorded videos. Even hearing people could benefit, with archivable and searchable text that has proven useful for the job. This does not mean that the problem is totally solved; Ava founder Thibault Duchemin says that while immense progress has been made, there is still a lot to do, especially with live video: “As a deaf or hard of hearing person right now, if I watch the television, is captioned by professionals, but what is the difference with a live broadcast on social media of an important event? “

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