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April 2009

Volume 1

Automatic Sync offers broadcasters, educational institutions and government agencies a transcribing and captioning service for media. CaptionSync was funded by a US Department of Education grant to research and develop a cost-effective way to automate the process of making media accessible to comply wth a variety of federal and state and local laws.

Company News

Customer Spotlight

Legislative News

Partnership News


Tech Tidbits

Useful Resources

Pat Brogan Joins AST

Automatic Sync welcomes Pat Brogan, Ph.D. as new Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Pat joins Automatic Sync most recently from Echo360, a leading provider of lecture capture solutions in higher education.
Pat brings extensive experience in the field of technology and learning to Automatic Sync. Pat held management positions at IBM, Apple Computer, Academic Systems and Macromedia, where she held responsibility for eLearning and educational business segments. She has worked with eLearning and accessibility initiatives, serving on various committees and task forces.
Pat’s doctoral research was focused on comparing cognitive and affective factors influencing different modes of learning. She recently contributed the chapter on accessibility and eLearning standards in The eLearning Handbook, edited by Saul Carliner and Patti Shank.

Customer Spotlight: UC Berkeley & YouTube

The University of California at Berkeley has innovated with Podcasting and lecture capture tools for years. Because of the richness in talent affiliated with the University, they are committed to sharing information with the public. The Berkeley Opencast project aims to offer campuses and students tools and information to assist capturing, processing, and distributing audio/video. Content is published to various distribution portals including iTunes and YouTube.

Making content accessible is one of the Opencast project goals. An example of a workshop that has been published and widely viewed with AST captioning can be seen at: To expose the closed captioning in YouTube movies, move your mouse to the triangular shaped icon on the bottom right of the movie and the "CC" icon will appear. Turn "captions on" and captions will be displayed.

Screen Shot of the U.C. Berkeley Open Cast workshop with Captions done by Automatic Sync

Publisher Cengage Learning Develops Video Captioning Program

Liz Graham, Program Manager for Media and eBooks at publisher Cengage Learning (formerly Thomson Learning), with textbook brands like Gale, Aplia, Wadsworth, South-Western and others, has a unique challenge—how to develop and implement a policy for making the company’s media accessible and compliant with state and federal laws.

“When the recent Missouri legislation went into effect, we decided that it made sense to be proactive in developing a policy about captioning media,” said Liz.

“With punitive laws in place, we had to pay attention. Before, we did some captioning in more of a piece-meal manner. But it was awkward and costly. Students or faculty had to request that materials be captioned. We are working with Automatic Sync to make the process easier and less costly.”

Cengage recognizes that the value in captioning goes beyond just making classroom materials accessible to students with disabilities just to avoid legal battles. "We know that captioning will benefit many users, not just those with hearing disabilities". As Cengage brings more video to the Web, they will benefit from other uses of captioning, including the ability to search on keywords, to highlight specific words, or to translate the words into foreign languages. Cengage offers professors a wealth of instructional resources, and by making the materials accessible, the compliance burden is not placed on the university.

Accessibility and Captioning Legislative News

Time Warner Cable Ready for Digital Migration

Time Warner Cable announced that they are ready to provide closed captions for the hearing impaired once the country makes the conversion from analog to digital TV.

State Accessibility Policies

Section 508-504 compliance mandates continue to be added at the state level. Recent states to add compliance legislation include Missouri, Oklahoma and Illinois, joining Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, N. Carolina, Texas, Virginia, W. Virginia, and Florida. For more information about specific state policies, please go to:

The Missouri Revised Statutes, imposes punitive penalties for non-compliance of captioning of three times the project fees.

FCC changes complaint process

On November 3, 2008, the FCC adopted rules revising the procedures for filing closed captioning complaints. Under the new rules, consumers will no longer be required to file complaints with the video programming distributor. Consumers will have 60 days from the date the captioned program aired to file a complaint either with the distributor or the Commission. If the complaint is filed with the Commission, the Commission will forward it to the distributor. After receiving a complaint, either directly from the consumer or from the Commission, the distributor will have 30 days to respond to the complaint. The Commission also adopted new rules requiring that video programming distributors make specific contact information available to consumers to assist consumers in contacting the distributors about closed captioning concerns.

Movie Captioning Lawsuit

Movie theaters in Kings County, Washington are facing a lawsuit contending that most King County theaters are violating disability laws by failing to make the movies accessible to people with limited hearing.

Similar legislation in Arizona ruled in favor of theater owner Harkins Amusements Inc. who successfully argued that mandating captioning amounted to forcing a change in the content of an artistic work. The case has gone to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Arizona for review.

Washington State’s accessibility policy is more rigid, and John Waldo, attorney with the Washington State Communication Access Project, which filed the suit, is hopeful the higher court will reverse the decision, and he believes Washington’s state disability law, which affords more protections for the disabled, wouldn’t allow for a similar interpretation.

“The dream,” he said, is “that we’d be able to go to any movie, any time and understand it.”


Partnership News

AST and Echo360 kicked off their partnership at a recent workshop at Gallaudet University focused on "Accessible Lecture Capture".

The Echo360 and AST partnership enables customers to select a “publish to AST” option when scheduling lectures to be recorded. The audio file is automatically uploaded from the Echo system server (ESS) to the AST system, where it is sent to a transcription agent. A transcript and or a caption file are created and automatically uploaded into the ESS, where the captions are automatically merged with the audio, video and visuals for display under the video window.

Echo360 customers will need to have the ESS 2.4 version to take advantage of the automated workflow.

Mike Fardon, VP of Development at Echo360 demonstrated the workflow, and showed the power of using search capabilities with captions to make the lectures more useful.

Other presentations included keynote presentation by Phil Bravin, longtime Gallaudet University board member and former President and CEO of National Captioning Institute, and presentations by Gallaudet University and George Washington University on their use of the Echo360 system. To watch the Echo captured version of this workshop go to: Access with Assistive Technologies.html

To see a “How to” movie on integrating Echo360 with AST, and other “how to” movies, please go to: AST’s “how-to” videos (all captioned!):

Image of the Echo360 Lecture capture playback environment math class at University of Massachusetts Lowell with captions

Echo360 Recorded Lecture With Captions

Tech Tidbits

Have lots to Caption?

AST's web-based CaptionSync is very convenient and easy to use; do it from virtually any web browser on virtually any computer anywhere.  If you have 60 files to caption, filling out the form and pressing the submit button 60 times can quickly become tiresome.  The AST-Link application for Windows and Mac was built to handle just such cases.  It allows you to simply drag and drop multiple files to be uploaded in the background.  In addition you can group your files into "batches" so all the results for a particular course can be kept together and returned as a single ZIP file.

ReDo!! For edits, changes and different formats

Did you know that your files are stored in the system for six months and during that period, you have access to make changes through the “ReDo” functions. If you want to clean up a file, edit out a section or make other changes, you can use this feature at no charge to generate a new file. To learn more, watch the “how to” video at:

Upcoming Events

April 9, University of Chicago Accessibility Conference

May 11-12, AccessU, Austin Texas

May 15-16, EduComm 2009, Orlando, Florida

Useful Resources

• Cal State ATI Page:
• AHEAD (Association on Higher Ed and Disability)
• Department of Ed 508 info:
• Department of Justice accessibility info:
• Whitepaper on Making Lectures Accessible:
• AST’s “how-to” videos (all captioned!):

In-depth presentation on different ways to caption: