Web TV for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

07 Nov 2008

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clubs Association as well as its member clubs are performing special social programs for our users thus offering them the possibility of independent and equal inclusion in the living and working environment. Implementation of these programs has a supplementary role to public services. Due to their hearing impairment, our users are hindered in communication what renders them difficult to access information because they need a support of an interpreter and adequate subtitling. Consequently, they are not able to keep pace with rapid technological progress and their possibilities are not equal to those of other citizens. For this reason, the Association has been paying special attention to informative activities for several decades (the Magazine for 29 years, TV broadcast for 28 years, as well as other informative means). Modern technologies, our own equipment and knowledge enabled development of a new informative program - the Web TV.


Mr. Dragoljub Vukotic, a long year president of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) stressed that just the scarce information was one of the greatest problems of the deafness. For the sake of the life-long hindrance in oral and social communication, the deafness is ranged among the hardest forms of disability. The hearing impaired people are permanently isolated from the hearing environment. Public media (radio and TV) are not equally accessible to the sensorial disabled people, compared with the hearing population. Deaf people are deprived of information accepted by means of the auditory channel. Unable to listen to the radio and TV, they do not capture equal quantity of information from their environment as the normally hearing people do. This means that they are hindered in satisfaction of their vital communicational needs and interests. The hearing people can follow a number of informative, educational, entertainment, and other radio and TV transmissions. Deaf and hard of hearing people can not get information in this way, being unable to hear spoken announcements. Deaf people and those with a hard loss of hearing are a marginalized group of the general public media audience. By means of public media, deaf people do not get enough information concerning their life and happenings in various spheres like culture, legislation, education, information, etc.

A scarce educational structure is characteristic for the deaf population. Deaf members of our clubs (the Association is joining 13 clubs) have in average a lower educational degree than the entire population of the Republic of Slovenia (Juhart, 2006). Most of the deaf have achieved some kind of vocational school (55%); together with the deaf who finished just the primary school their share amounts even to 89%. Compared with other disability groups, deaf people have the lowest educational degree. In educational process, their worse efficiency in reading, writing, and oral reporting is clearly evident. Verbal efficiency is indispensable for acquisition of knowledge at any educational level. For this reason, their incapacity of using verbal language leads to fatal communicational deficiency that inevitably reflects in everyday life, especially when communicating with the hearing population.

Another fact to be considered regarding deaf people's communication with gestures is that Sign language is their mother tongue. The Law on the use of Slovene Sign language in the Republic of Slovenia was officially adopted in 2002.

The Article 21 of the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people (ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Slovenia in April 2008) explicitly stresses access to information: »... assurance of information intended for the public to disabled people in the forms and technologies accessible to them, recognition and stimulation of the use of Sign language, accessibility of TV programs and cultural activity, support of disabled people's own culture and their linguistic identity, as well as Sign language and the culture of the deaf.


Our members consider the web TV as one of the most popular forms of information. It is a fast and comprehensive source of news available anywhere and at any time - 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year. A recent survey showed that the new media met with good response of the members of our clubs. By means of the cyber visit counters we can find out what kind of reports are mostly followed by our users and establish the number of their views.

The Ministry of Culture issued a decree according to which the 'Web TV for the deaf and hard of hearing' media is inserted to the list of the public media.

Primary aim of the web TV is to prepare information for deaf and hard of hearing people in the form comprehensible to them, by means of additional and specially adopted informing.

The web TV can be - due to its global possibilities - ranged among the most innovative forms of information for deaf and hard of hearing people. It enables accessibility of the news in a fast way and in the form that they can understand. The web TV opens new possibilities of getting information in acceptable, comprehensive, and friendly form always available to anyone disposing with a computer.

While the full-sensorial people (the hearing population) can get audio-visual information through TV broadcasting systems, such information must be presented in visual form for deaf and hard of hearing viewers:

- an interpreter translates by gestures all verbal announcements into Slovene Sign language; at the same time the viewer can follow simultaneous subtitles and the speaker reading the text;

- images (video material) may never be transmitted together with the interpreter because (as maintain deaf and hard of hearing viewers) it is impossible to watch at the interpreter and the image simultaneously; this is certainly logical but not immediately understandable to the normally hearing people.

The web TV brings reports on actual matters in the Republic of Slovenia and European Union (weekly political report, events during the RS presiding over EU, etc.), important informative reports (on parliamentary sessions, decisions, legislative amendments, and other events), news about the deaf sport events, the culture of the deaf (explicitly mentioned in the UN Convention), happenings in our clubs all over Slovenia, technical aids, disability issues, legislation concerning disabled people, etc. Further on, there are also expert articles, the Association's official announcements, reports on national and international meetings, seminars, conferences, congresses, workshops, festivals, and other events. The user can establish links to all world associations for the deaf and hard of hearing: WFD (World Federation of the Deaf), IFHOH (International Federation of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing), ICSD/Deaflympics, Sport Associations of the Deaf, and others.

The web TV for the deaf and hard of hearing also contributes to popularization of Sign language. In this way, deaf people using Sign language are enabled to get information in their mother tongue, while the hard of hearing users can read subtitles and listen to the sound information (using their residual efficient sense of hearing).

Financial resources for equipment of the video studio and editing laboratory were provided by the Foundation for financing of disability and humanitarian organizations (FIHO). On this occasion we express our special acknowledgement.

Assets for employment of three persons could be obtained on the basis of a contract (stipulated with the Ministry of Culture) on co-financing of the project »Employment, subvention, and qualification of deaf and hard of hearing people for the work in the web TV sphere«. This project is financed by EU, precisely by its European Social Fund.

The web TV program will cover any important news issued by the National Disability Council of the RS, by FIHO as well as information of organizations for disabled students, for the blind, and others.

You can find us on the following domains:

www.deaf-tv.si, www.webtv-slovenia.si