Webinar Series: Captioning Live Events

In this webinar we discuss captioning live events, including how to select the appropriate real-time captioning service, and how to prepare for the event to ensure the best user experience for your event viewers.

Note: The following video should be considered an alternative to the Annotated Transcript, which contains descriptions of visual references in the media. Also, the pages listed in the Resources section are primarily text-based, and will be useful to those who do not have access to the visual content.


Annotated Video Transcript

>> TJ DiGRAZIA: Good morning everyone and thanks for joining us. We’re going to go through some slides here and talk about live captioning and some different types of realtime captioning and places where we can use it. We’ll hit some of the technical pieces as well. And then we’ll leave plenty of time at the end for some question and answer time. I want to make sure that if anybody has specific questions to their needs that we’re addressing those, as well. So let’s go ahead and get started.

I want to talk about two speech-to-text accommodations this morning. The first one being CART and the second being text interpreting, also known as TypeWell or C-print.

So I’m going to dig in specifically to CART first. CART stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation, essentially it’s verbatim captioning. So our writer is listening in and capturing 100% of the conversation. For CART and CART writers, we’re really looking for them to capture anywhere from 96 or above percent from an accuracy perspective. These folks are extremely skilled. And they can type anywhere from 225 words to 300 words per minute. So extremely fast, extremely accurate. Many of them start in the court reporting field. They do use what’s called a steno machine. If anybody has ever seen L.A. Law, or I may be dating myself a little bit by saying that, but it’s sort of a little black box with a bunch of keys. So essentially it’s a phonetic translation. They hear the words and they’re able to put those pieces of words together as they hear them. So extremely fast, extremely accurate. It’s very important as you look at CART and CART writers, and we’ll talk a little bit more about implications of looking at vendors and so forth. But we want to make sure folks are certified. CCP is a really important certification. It’s a Certified CART Provider. It comes through the national organization called NCRA, it’s a National Court Reporting organization. It’s very important that we look at vendors that folks are certified, and those are questions that we’ll get into later and that we should be asking as we select vendors. CART is available on site and remotely and we’ll talk a little bit more about those details here in a little bit.

The second service that I’m going to talk about from a realtime perspective, and I say second service, but I don’t think CART or text interpreting is, one is not better than the other, they’re just different. And they serve different needs and we’ll talk about that as we go through the presentation. But here essentially this is a meaning-for-meaning captioning style. So we are listening in, we are interpreting what the professor is saying, we’re making decisions on what words we can drop out of the sentence and condense down. Our goal is to give a more abbreviated version of what is being said, and I’ll show you here what that looks like in a little bit. These folks are using a keyboard as opposed to a steno machine that a CART writer uses. And training takes about three months for these folks, as opposed to CART which takes about 3-4 years. So a little bit shorter training period, but these folks are very effective and this is a very viable service, also available on site and remotely.

So here is the side-by-side comparison of CART versus text interpreting. You can see that the CART version is longer than the text interpreting version. I’m not going to read it out loud, but I will let you folks kind of take a look here for a second and just kind of key in as you read both. You can see that the text interpreting is just a little bit more precise. Even as I talk here today on this presentation, there are so many more words that I’m actually using to get my point across as opposed to being precise. That’s just simply how we talk in the English language. So text interpreting is going to give you that precise and condensed version.

So with using either one of these services, the great thing about each service that all the technical pieces and all the benefits are really the same. It really becomes to what the student prefers and the text that is actually delivered within the captioning window. So both services you’ll see about a 2-3 second delay. After the class is over or the event is over, you’ll get a roughly-edited transcript. It comes in a Word document format. From a remote perspective, we see primarily 95% of all services, both CART and text interpreting being delivered remotely. We reduce costs, we reduce travel expenses, and minimums. A lot of on-site minimums are 2-3 hours. With using remote services, we’re looking at more of a one-hour minimum. Also the availability of writers throughout the country makes a huge difference. We’re able to pull in writers remotely that have expertise in subject matters that your students might be taking. So I can match a writer that has an expertise in medical with a student that’s taking a nursing program. And it really helps, you know, from an accuracy and experience level. Also, using remote services holds a 24-hour cancellation policy. You might see a little bit more of a variance with on-site services. Definitely some cost savings there, as well as us being able to bring in some expertise from a remote perspective.

Technically, again I want to say that both services require the same sort of setup. These, what I’m talking about here is really based towards the classroom setting. A student can choose to use a laptop, an iPad, a tablet, really any device that is connected to the internet. It doesn’t have to be a hard connection. It can be wi-fi, that’s fine. In the classroom, we’re using Skype, very often as the audio method. If we’re talking about a campus event or a graduation there might be an alternative way that we’re looking to secure the audio, it could be via a phone line or another method, as well. But we would contact AV and sort of work through those different options. In the classroom, there’s really two different styles of microphones. One would be a lapel style or the other would be an omni-directional or room-style microphone. There are different microphones that work with different devices. And your provider should be able to walk you through what device or what microphone works best with what device. We can talk more about that if folks have questions on preferred equipment as we get into that Q&A session.

Okay. So we know a little bit about both services. So what service should we choose for our student? Well, ideally we should go to the student and say, you know, do you have a preference? Have you used one service or the other? But from our experience, we see students that are ASL as a first language really preferring the text interpreting, which is C-print or TypeWell because it’s more of a condensed language. And then we do see some of our cochlear users really gravitating towards CART, which is verbatim. Cochlear users tend to rely on CART to verify what they’re hearing in a classroom situation. So it’s really important for them to have verbatim captioning so that they can refer back very quickly to what they believe was being said. And again, I think it goes back to previous experience. Some students really want CART or really want text interpreting. And in an ideal situation we should be selecting services based on the student’s preference. Some students may not know exactly what they want. And this is where a service provider should be able to put TypeWell and CART side by side and have a conversation and let the student see both services side by side to see what works best for them. Some other considerations that we just need to talk about, there are budgetary restrictions. We all have budgets. We certainly understand that. Text interpreting is about 30% or 40% cheaper than CART services. So that might be something that, you know, makes your decision either way. We do have some universities that say we only provide CART, we only provide text interpreting, that’s our accommodation, that’s what we do here. And that’s okay, too. And then we also have universities that have internal captioning programs. They may train CART writers, they may hire CART writers or train TypeWell or C-print writers and have them on staff. That may be a consideration of why one service is offered over the other.

Where can you use captioning? Pretty much everywhere. If we can hear it, we can turn it into text. I’ve kind of focused a lot on the classroom environment, kind of in-person traditional classroom. But we can do online learning platforms. Very common ones in the educational environment: Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, and Zoom like you see here today. Also we may find situations where there is webcast. Youtube Live is becoming very popular. We can plug into those, as well. And campus presentations. We have a lot of universities that are making all public presentations accessible. So a little bit different setup than it may be in the classroom, but that’s where we talk to production folks, AV folks, and figure out what the best solution is. Continuing on, sporting events are becoming a HUGE deal for universities. Football games, basketball ball games, soccer games, lacrosse. We are doing a number of those different types of sporting event and something you may want to consider. Graduations, from my perspective, we have seen huge growth in making those accessible. Again, there are some different pieces from a graduation perspective that we may specifically want to talk about when it comes to your setup. We’ve done them in a variety of different ways. Some folks will do accessibility in the actual room, they’ll do it on the web, they’ll do it on both situations. You can have captioning on a live screen, you can have captioning go to an iPad and pass those out to people who need accommodations. Again, a variety of different ways to make graduations accessible, and every situation it’s very specific to the university.

So some questions to ask. And I’ll ask these questions and maybe answer them very briefly and we can talk about these as people want more information as we get to the Q&A portion. Okay. So are your writers certified? We talked a little bit about certification earlier. CCP, that’s Certified CART Provider is the certification you want to ask about. And ask them for documentation. Do you have an internal evaluation process to review folks? Very important question to ask. Are they just hiring people with a certification and then you kind of get what you get? There should be some kind of evaluation process to make sure that writers are not only qualified, but they’re also given feedback so they can improve. Are services scalable? Do you have five hours this semester and fifty hours next semester or more? Can your vendor be flexible? Are there contracts required? We understand that students change schedules. I’m sure you’ve never had a student change a schedule or cancel or add things. And I’m sure you’re all laughing right now because I am, too. We know that they change quite often. So be careful about long-term contracts. I feel that, you know, you don’t want to be locked into anything or have to pay for a certain amount of hours up front. Training for the student and staff, very important. There should be a training program so the student is prepared in the classroom. Demonstrations, we want to educate people, make sure that those demonstrations are being given to you folks. Be clear on the cancellation policy and then what happens once the service is installed into the classroom with the student. Is there any support moving forward? And then is CART and text interpreting, C-print, and TypeWell all available? We see some students wanting CART for some classes and text interpreting for other classes? So do they have that flexibility?

Real quickly, from an accuracy perspective, you can see very quickly how accuracy changes. So let me read this example. A thirty-minute newscast may have approximately 3500 words in it. If you’re perfect and you have zero errors, if you’re 99% accuracy, you’re going to have 35 errors. If you’re 98% accuracy, you’re going to have 70 errors. So just consider how that error rate increases as we get down into, you know, 90%. We will sometimes hear that 90% number and it really becomes unreadable. We want to really say 96-97 and 98 and above from an accuracy perspective.

As far as the successful service goes, folks, we just want to make sure everyone is involved in the process. We want to empower our consumers, we want to educate instructors. We want to make sure the service provider is ready to go and is prepared and that everyone is feeling good about the service before we ever go into a live classroom. So that’s sort of a high-level overview and I am ready to take some questions.

Resources for Real-time Captioning Live Events


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