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Syncing Up with Automatic Sync

August 2009 (Govt) Volume 2
Automatic Sync offers broadcasters, corporations, 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.


Automatic Sync Awarded Recent Contracts:

The California Community College Foundation Selects AST as a captioning provider for Distance Education Captioning and Transcription Grant. For more information go to see AST's DECT Grant Information.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau selected AST as the winning bidder for captioning several hundred hours of videos.

Obama Team Transition Report Guides Government Use of YouTube and Other Portals--Captioning Media Lags

In a report prepared for the Obama administration, Putting Citizens First:Transforming Online Government it states " Technology should not drive our business decisions, but rather help us serve the needs of the American people." New uses of social networking technology for communicating with constituents and customers are replacing the old model which includes 24,000 (or more) government Web sites that have not focused on communicating timely and releavant information. The report suggests that "For example, agencies could post instructional videos on YouTube to explain how to apply for a small business loan or learn about Medicare benefits. To do this, the government must ensure that federal employees who need access to social media tools have them, and that these new ways of delivering content are available to all, including people with disabilities."

Agencies like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), National Organization of Standards and Technology (NIST) and President Obama are using public social networking tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to communicate and stay connected. The commerce department signed an agreement with YouTube to have channels for their main departments. These portals offer access to large audiences, easy access across platforms and devices, and free storage and connectivity. The challenge is that many of these sites are producing content that is not accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing communities. With grim forecasts like "half the U.S. population could catch the swine flu", communicating important health information to all potential candidates is a challenge. Using portals like YouTube, and captioning and translating the information will increase the message absorption.


Customer Spotlight

CNET Drives Web Traffic Through Video Captioning, a part of CBS Interactive is the leading online provider of technology and consumer electronic information. Video is an important format for communicating visual information, with tens of thousands of videos being hosted with millions of views. To attract more viewers and to make the experience better CNET uses Automatic Sync Technologies to caption their video. In addition to using the time-coded captions for the video, transcript text is made searchable so that search engines like Google can identify content within the video as part of their search engine optimization (SEO) process. According to Justin Eckhouse, Senior Product Manager, "Once we added the captions, we noticed a dramatic increase in referrals from search engines. The increase in traffic from SEO referrals helped us to justify the expense of captioning". Eckhouse says that CNET does want to support accessibility practices, even though they are not mandated to do so. "Captions benefit more than just the deaf community. Many people that watch video over the web and are not in a place where they can easily listen to the audio, so having the captions displayed aids their ability to watch and comprehend the content."

U.S. Department of Defense' Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University Improves Learning Through Creative Uses of Transcripts

James Wrubel from the Software Engineering Institute, a Department of Defense training center located at Carnegie Mellon University worked to develop an instructional delivery that suits the needs of different learning types. The system now offers 8,000 users over 10,000 hours of instruction per month. Presented in a simple, elegant and intuitive virtual training environment, (VTE) the lessons offer users the options to see video of the instructor, the presentation materials, to hear the audio, and to either read along with a transcript or to read ahead, by unsyncing the audio from the transcript (caption files presented as a transcript).

As part of the development efforts, the SEI conducted research to understand usage and skills mastery. The concept of delivering a transcript offers the following benefits:

  • The ability to perform deep keyword searching through content
  • The ability to print, download, and annotate course materials
  • Access and control to pace their learning by following the transcript, or unsynchronizing the audio to enable students to read ahead

Research shows that most people read faster than people speak. The SEI designed a system where students can move through the material at their own pace using the transcript as a guide to upcoming material. Though by default the transcript follows the audio, the system allows the student to unlink the transcript and treat it as a standalone asset. In some cases, students may not natively speak the instructor's language and having a verbatim transcript allows them to pause the audio lecture and look up words they need to clarify without missing any of the material. Because they are a government funded program compliance with American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards is important.

To view this course, go to: To read the research article about this learning environment please go to: Shot of Class on Venture Captial from Carnegie Mellon University with transcript from AST



Legislative News

Captioning And Legislation

"Do I have to caption my materials?" is a question frequently asked by various organizations. Understanding which laws pertain to your organization, agency or institution can be challenging, especially when you have to understand the Federal, State and if you are part of an academic system, the system-wide rules and policies. An excellent review of the relevant laws covering captioning can be found at the California Community College High Tech Training Center's website at: A summary of states' laws can be found at:

21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act Would Mandate Web Video Captioning

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (HR3101) was introduced in Congress on June 26, 2009 by Representative Ed Markey and would mandate captioning for Web-delivered video programming. Given that only a fraction of the web-delivered videos are captioned, this has set the deaf and hard of hearing community's progress back several years in content accessibility. You can show your support for this by sending a email to to contact Representatives and ask them to cosponsor the bill. To show your support for getting a similar bill introduced in the Senate, email your senator at In addition to writing to Congress, you are invited to join Caption Action 2 on Facebook, at There is also a companion blog, at

Partnership News

Accessible Lecture Capture With MediaSite

Sonic Foundry and Automatic Sync Technologies announce the integration of closed captioning into the Mediasite 5.1 platform, allowing customers to easily capture and playback content that meets accessibility requirements. The Mediasite system allows colleges, government agencies and corporations to easily record and publish lectures to the Web. By easily facilitating the captioning process, campuses can meet accessibility mandates and provide students a richer learning environment.

"Our campus is committed to supporting students with disabilities, and making media accessible," said Dusty Smith, Digital Media Manager (Engineering Media Services, UW-Madison). "In the College of Engineering we have captured lectures and sent them to Automatic Sync for captioning. We find that many students like to have the captions displayed when they are available."

The integrated workflow allows Mediasite content providers to designate recordings to be captured and captioned. The Mediasite system will capture the audio, the video and the materials presented in the classroom. The Mediasite system automatically interacts with AST's CaptionSync service to complete the captioning and present it to viewers. "Customers using Mediasite will need to upgrade to Mediasite 5.1 to benefit from the automated workflow" said Kristen Zurovich, Mediasite product manager.

"Captions offer benefits to many viewers, not just the deaf and hard of hearing," said Alice Anderson with the Technology Accessibility Program at the University of Wisconsin. "Students for whom English is a second language benefit from seeing the written words, especially when learning terms that are new. Captions offer benefits to the aging population, those working out in a gym or other noisy environments, and children developing language skills."

Sample screen shot from Mediasite


For more information please go to: or



Upcoming Events:

IDEAS (Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase) Conference; Washington D.C. October 5-6, 2009

Recent Events: Automatic Sync has presented at several conference and events which are posted online (click on title to link to it).:

Captioning ABC's presented by the California State University system.

Captioning Beyond Compliance, presented at University of Wisconsin.

Adding Meaning To Media through Captioning, presented at the University of Illinois Accessibility conference.

Tech Tidbits

AST Makes Captioning For YouTube Easy Enabling ADA Compliance for Colleges and Government Agencies

Whether you are a government agency following President Obama's lead in communicating with constituents via public forums like YouTube and Twitter, or you are one of the colleges that are using the YouTube Education channel, which currently offers over 30,000 educational videos, your video will be more impactful and useful if it is captioned. Universities like University of Calfornia Berkeley, MIT, University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and Case Western Reserve are offering courses to the public via YouTube. Under section 504 of the American's With Disabilities Act, educational institutions and government agencies need to offer "effective communications" to all constituents, in a format consistent with their needs. Publishing non-captioned videos exposes the agency or school to a civil rights lawsuit. For information on section 504 compliance please go to:

AST offers the YouTube caption file format among one of the more than 40 available formats. With AST, you can get as many different format types as you want for the same captioning fee. YouTube supports both open and closed captions. To create YouTube closed captions, follow these steps:

Step 1: Upload your video files to YouTube as you normally would.

Step 2: Log on and upload your video to Automatic Sync's CaptionSync website at: (login link is in upper right corner). If you do not already have a login ID, please register for one at:

Step 3: Go to the job submission page and click on the advanced functions button to select the .srt output format. You can select this for either the Web or broadcast.

Step 4: Submit the job for captioning. You will recieve the output file in approximately three days if a transcript is required, minutes if you have submitted your own transcript.

Step 5: Go to your YouTube account. Locate the edit button on your movie on YouTube. Then click the "Captions and Subtitles" tab.

Step 6: Select the caption file from the location where you saved it when you got it from AST and upload the file.

Step 8: Indicate the language you are using.

Step 9: Hit the "upload" button. Your movie should play with captions.

To watch a "how to" video please go to:

YouTube instructional video from CDC on Swine Flu


Useful Resources


In-depth presentation on different ways to caption:

On June 25th, The California State University Chancellor's office hosted a webinar covering the ABCs of captioning. The webinar can be viewed at:

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