Petition to make closed captions standard

After requesting closed captions from the event coordinator on videos for my hearing impaired student, imagine my surprise to find out FIRST doesn’t have any.

WHAT? All of those videos that events are forced to show have no available closed captions? This might be the the most MINIMUM thing you can do to be inclusive. It benefits not only the disabled, but many elderly, or anyone using headphones to dim the noise of competition. Many people that hear perfectly fine watch things with CC on.

Come on FIRST, you can do so much better than that. I can understand no CC for MC or GA or anyone else speaking live, but those videos are made way ahead of time. Surely you can throw some text at the bottom.

Please do better. Videos shown at competition should have CC. ALL pre-made videos. At EVERY competition. I’ll admit I didn’t think about it until after our first event. (I still feel very guilty) But I NEVER would have guessed the answer would be “We don’t have any.”

When I finally get a moment to breath, I plan to send a carefully worded letter to HQ (anyone got a good email address to send it to) requesting this kind of accommodation from now on. And I hope others will do the same.

*Also a big “THANK YOU” to the volunteers and EC at FTC MSC-SE for everything they did to help. You went out of your way to try and make sure we had a great event. We did and I will be forever grateful.


in FRC in Türkiye we put CC on all the premade videos in both English and Turkish.

I know nothing about FTC though.

I believe there is a greater effort going forward in FRC to include CC in as many places as possible, but again, know nothing about FTC.


RIT has a large deaf/hard-of-hearing population due to NTID. At every Finger Lakes Regional I can remember (2015-2020), they’ve had an ASL interpreter and closed-captioning for morning speeches. I honestly don’t remember if this was also a part of awards or not.

Captioning on FIRST videos should be a pretty easy step towards better accommodations, and I hope to see it come soon.


Computer generated transcripts aren’t perfect but are better than nothing too. However, given how much of the promo videos are scripted, I don’t think FIRST would even need to rely on much beyond the script doc.

I had to take some workplace training recently and was shocked by the lack of closed captions offered. It really does feel like a low-effort, high-effect accessibility feature.

Tell me where to sign!


In spring of 2021, I joined the newly formed FIRST Access Advisory Board as a person who is hard-of-hearing (I am 100% deaf in one ear, have hearing loss in the other ear, and wear hearing aids - you’ll often see me smiling and nodding politely in noisy environments even though I have no idea what you’re saying). I bring this up at every board meeting I attend with that group. The group is very open to solutions, though there are a large number of important priorities when talking about access equity and their first focus has been FLL. Many accommodations are equally applicable for all programs and help a lot more people that just those with hearing loss.

Other options that are relatively easy to implement:

  • Use of easily seen visual cues in addition to aural cues at events for things like the start of a match (lower an arm/flag when the GA/MC says “go”, that sort of thing)
  • Require CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) systems from AV vendors for live captioning on streams both at events and remote - these systems are readily available now but are an additional cost. At some local (not FIRST) events I’ve been to the CART captioning is provided on a separate screen.
  • Add information about working with people who are D/HH to the EDI training provided by FIRST
  • Add captioning to pre-recorded videos
  • Push Twitch to provide a CC option like YouTube/Zoom/Teams/etc do
  • Make ASL (or whatever the local sign language is) interpreters available from the delivery partners

These requests should be going to a lot of different people - event coordinators, program managers, regional/district administration, FIRST EDI, etc.

I recently talked to a family with a student looking to join our team for the 2024 season. The student is not completely deaf but has profound bilateral hearing loss. If they join, I will work with them and their family to get specific accommodations they need to make their experience better and then ask for those accommodations at the events we go to, including captioning on the videos, while also continuing to push for those changes systemically so I don’t have to ask in support of a single student.

Like all EDI work, it is slow and needs pressure lots of different sides to make systemic change. Even the relatively easy changes.


All of your suggestions are great, but I’ve never heard of this before. It’s this something that is kind of plug & play? Like if we had one, can it just be connected and it would work?

Being in Michigan, I’m sure we could join with a few teams to fundraise for something like that. (Wonder how much?) I think it should be simple for FIRST to add the text, but it would be great to have the live captions too. I’ll have to look it up.

I’m not too qualified on this topic but I believe CART captioning involves a certified CART captioner that physically attends an event to transcribe anything and everything said to the public on the PA system onto a secondary projector screen, etc. that everyone can see. It’s different from like say the auto-captions on YT or Teams. It might be helpful that the captioner you might pick at least knows FRC/FTC a little so they are familiar with terminology that may be thrown around.

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Yeah, I did look it up. It’s a person. A stenographer that types while someone is talking. I doubt there are very many people able to do that. (Which is why it’s probably so expensive).


We had a school event recently where we knew that a hard-of-hearing parent would be in attendance and wanted to figure out some way to auto-caption the speeches being given. I was surprised to discover that there isn’t some automated or cloud-based way to easily do this for live events yet (that I could find, anyway). Considering that on-demand captions are available on platforms like YouTube, I figured it’d be an obvious extension to somehow implement this capability for live events, but it doesn’t look like it really exists yet. Hopefully at some point this will be a reality.

Twitch already has the ability to render and display inline closed captions. They are, however, reliant on the streamer to generate them. There are multiple plugins and services to make this work with what the majority of FRC webcasts use (OBS, if my understanding is correct.)

All in all, this is an obvious and important step forward. Let’s do this. (HQ please.)


THIS. As well as everything else listed.


I struggle to focus on audio only videos as well, I have given up watching the videos due to the fact of sound overlap. (Teams who submit videos, please put captions! One of the submitted videos at our events had closed captions and when I saw that I was so happy, I was stimming and I almost cried.) At events all the sounds that come from having a robotics competition make it impossible to hear. Last year I started asking my team if there is anything important I need to hear. I hate having to take time out (of our teams comp time) to understand something that should be understandable for everyone.
I was our drive coach for DCMPS as well as a bit of Pease, I had to rely on visual and physical cues, such as tapping to go one way or another.
As for the speeches, enunciation is important. Removing background noise is important! Making sure mics are far enough from mouths to not pick up breathing, but close enough to pick up voices well.
Can we also talk about the visual issues? My sight isn’t horrible (with my glasses) but I struggle to see videos, etc. Not to mention the issues from behind the driver station. Video screens have been behind driver stations and make angles very hard to see. Lighting can also make it hard, too bright of lights and you can’t see the video (and the closed captions). To combat this, you can turn the saturation on the projector up, it’ll make all the colors more intense making it easier to see.


Petition worked!


This is wonderful!!!

I hope they are doing this at every level and not just FRC too. I also want to say that ECs have been good about letting our team sit together when we have someone that needs accommodations as well.

Now for the visual game cues. :grin:

The parent of our team member also talked to some people at FIM about an organization she knows that might be able to provide an ASL interpreter at events. So, hopefully, we’ll have progress there too.


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