“The real handicap of deafness lies not in the ear; it lies in the mind.” - Marlee Matlin, March 30 talk at Google

I never expected that working at Google would allow me to meet a cherished idol, Marlee Matlin. Marlee’s acting prowess couldn’t help me with my work as a software engineer, yet we faced a common challenge: being Deaf in a hearing world. Like many other people, I was inspired by the way she succeeded on her own terms.

That’s why it was such an honor for me personally to have Marlee visit Google to discuss online captioning and deliver a talk to employees. As you may know, Marlee is an Academy Award winning actress, author and a national spokesperson for closed captioning access on behalf of the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and other organizations. She talked about her autobiography, I’ll Scream Later, and accessibility issues facing people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, she shared a preview of a pilot for her new reality show on YouTube, “My Deaf Family.” We’ve published Marlee’s talk (with captions, of course!) and encourage you to check it out:



Marlee said she chose to publish her show on YouTube, “where I can call the shots and where I can guarantee the show will be broadcast with captions.” Since posting online, she’s already gotten more than 70,000 views and some great feedback and ratings. People from all around the world are checking out the show and sharing with friends. Take a look at the views rising recently:


As we discussed with Marlee and at our event last November, the online population of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing rivals the populations of people speaking many major world languages, such as Italian and Russian. Adding captions to video can help ensure the widest audience possible sees it, and with machine translation, that audience can expand to include people who speak any of 50 languages.

While expanding automatic captions to all users was an important step, we still encourage you to add manual captions to your videos. With our automatic-timing technology it’s easy, and manual captions are generally more accurate. We showed Marlee how to add captions to her new show in just a few minutes -- right before she got up on stage for the premiere.

We want to thank Marlee for taking the time to visit us, and for sharing her talent and vision with the broader YouTube community. We wish her the best of luck with her new show, and look forward to working together to expand online access. Personally, I’m still pinching myself after the visit; it’s not everyday that I get a compliment from a person like Marlee.

Ken Harrenstien, Software Engineer, recently watched “Jason Molenda In the Net.”