When conducting a recent survey on Webinar Experiences, we were left with this comment after the question, "Are webinars as effective as classroom training?":
"It can be for many people. However as a hard of hearing person, I have difficulty hearing what the other attendees are saying or asking. I depend a lot on reading lips and I can't see their lips. I am sure it is the same for other hard of hearing or deaf people. Not often is it captioned."
With webinars often relying solely on the prowess of the presenter, and then incorporating PowerPoint presentations as per usual, it's easy to see how information can be lost in the telling. It's a consideration that, I'm guessing, not many presenters take into account when scheduling their webinars. Certainly, the comment raised a point in my mind that I had not previously considered.
Webinar interaction is often limited to presenters asking questions and soliciting responses from attendees. It can be easy, then, for a minimally-interactive webinar to become a non-interactive webinar for the hard-of-hearing or deaf community.
Perhaps as the technology evolves and webinars become more and more popular, captioning will become ubiquitous and interaction will take place on-screen instead of only verbally (AllPlay Web performs this function--using competition to engage attendees without relying on verbal-only interaction). It will be interesting to see how accommodations for attendees with varying abilities will evolve.