By: Angie Ballman Punton
Paradigm Court Reporting & Captioning was delighted to be invited to partner with the Minnesota Wild in January 2015 to provide arena captioning for their home games at the Xcel Energy Center. Being huge Wild fans in the State of Hockey, we, of course, were extremely pleased to add them to our clientele, which also includes the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Golden Gopher football program. What could be better than watching Wild hockey, all in a day’s work?
However, our excitement goes far beyond the honor and privilege of working for the hometown team. The Minnesota Wild’s investment in providing arena captioning signals a genuine dedication by this organization to make the fan experience a great one for each and every ticket holder. That includes the approximate 20 percent of sports fans who will be in that arena on any given game day who experience some form of hearing loss. And it also marks another step in the right direction towards equal access to communication for deaf and hard-of-hearing everywhere, but especially at sporting venues.
As long as we’re giving shout-outs to the Wild, it should be noted that the amount of space and the placement of the captions on their new Daktronics scoreboard is incredible. Because each square inch of that board represents advertising revenue, this is just another powerfully objective demonstration of their commitment to making Wild games fully interactive for all. We have been nothing short of impressed with how interested the Wild organization has been in learning about this technology as well as how accommodating they have been to our captioning team–even giving them space in the control room “on the glass”!
Because hearing loss affects approximately 20 percent of Americans, voice-to-text translations become a hugely important means to participate in many of life’s pleasures—such as Minnesota Wild games! Our captions provide deaf and hard-of-hearing fans instant access to information that many of us may take for granted, from the famous “Let’s Play Hockey” chant to referee announcements to song lyrics to fan contests to safety announcements.
The word is spreading quickly throughout the community about this wonderful new accommodation. Adan Burke, President of Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens is quoted as saying, “Minnesota Wild, you just gained more fans. Thanks for making the games accessible for the twenty percent of Minnesotans who are Deaf, DeafBlind or Hard of Hearing. “
It’s no wonder that Wild games have been voted the Best Fan Experience in the NHL! Minnesota Wild, you deserve a standing ovation!