We’ll be honest with you: if you’re just looking for a captioning company — one that will give you a quick caption file so you can check off a box, but then ghost you when you need help with a bigger video accessibility challenge — there are plenty of other companies that will fit the bill. In fact, at Automatic Sync we don’t see ourselves as a captioning company; we want to be your video accessibility partner.
And we’re looking for a long-term relationship. Despite what many companies may tell you, making video truly accessible is not just a matter of making sure your videos have captions. For example, is your video player accessible to users of assistive technology? Do your videos need audio description to make them accessible to blind and vision impaired users? One thing the captioning companies won’t tell you is that there are 38 success criteria that you need to comply with to have WCAG 2 Level AA conformance, and virtually all of them are relevant to your website’s video content and video players. The truth is it takes time, planning, and a lot of work to make all of your video fully accessible, and we want to be your partner as you work toward that goal.
AST’s service makes intelligent use of automation technologies that streamline the process where it is most effective, while using professional human talent where it is needed most. For recorded video, the process typically consists of the following four steps:
1. Submit your media through your CaptionSync account or through one of our integrations with popular video platforms.
2. We transcribe the content verbatim, and optionally describe the visual content that is not described in the audio track.
3. CaptionSync generates precisely-timed closed caption and audio description output files.
4. We deliver final caption and description outputs to you via email, web download, or directly to your preferred video platform.
The entire process is completed within 8 hours when using our same-day service, and a range of turnaround time options are available that you can select from based on the priority of your jobs. If you already have a transcript, CaptionSync will produce caption files in just minutes; this service is referred to as Captioning Only. We also offer a Transcription Only service for when caption files are not needed.
So that’s the process for recorded video, but note that we also have services for live captioning, as described below.
One of the most common ways that captioning companies (and often also video platform companies) will attempt to mislead you is by trying to persuade you that captions are all the same, and that any captions are better than none at all. They’ll try to dazzle you with claims of artificial intelligence (AI), “self-learning algorithms,” and other high-tech-sounding doublespeak. They may also be hiding the fact that they’re offshoring most of the human component of their process. This comes at a cost, which you may unwittingly pass on to the viewers of your videos: lower accuracy of the captions.
Accuracy is a primary concern for educational content, and AST addresses this need by utilizing trained transcribers recruited from the most demanding environments. We are not offering a speech recognition solution; we use trained professional transcribers to avoid the pitfalls and high error rates associated with speech recognition solutions. When recruiting transcribers we look for accredited transcription training and actual experience, and when vetting applicants we conduct our own quality and performance testing before hiring. Subsequent to hiring, AST constantly monitors both quality and timeliness, and takes immediate corrective action if transcriber performance falls below our standards.
Another thing that captioning companies won’t tell you until after you’ve signed a contract is that creating the caption files is typically just one small part of your challenge in making your video accessible, especially if you have many videos. How will you get the caption files into your video platform? Do you need to manually upload each file? AST provides over 20 workflow integrations, which vastly simplify the process of adding captions or audio descriptions to your videos.
The CaptionSync Smart Player provides interactive transcript features that leverage transcript, caption and audio description data to create a more engaging and interactive experience. Viewers have the ability to click on individual words in the transcript to jump to the specific point in the video, or look up the word in a dictionary or encyclopedia. The Smart Player incorporates Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles by providing both additional representations of the video content and additional ways to engage with the content.
To communicate visual information in your videos to blind and vision impaired users AST has developed an innovative method of providing Extended Audio Description (WCAG 2.0 SC 1.2.7), which is a more thorough form of audio description than standard audio description (WCAG 2.0 SC 1.2.5). With extended audio description the video is paused when descriptions are required, allowing enough time to fully communicate the visual information.
Our live captioning services include remote CART and remote text interpreting for educational settings, and also remote captioning for events and live video streaming. Our large network of NCRA-certified captioners allows us to schedule an appropriate captionist for each session, with on-call backups available in the case of emergencies.
Those are the basic components of video accessibility, but this is really just scratching the surface. As you start working toward a goal of making your video truly accessible you will undoubtedly run into more questions, and that’s where our Customer Success and Technical Support teams come in. The Support Center is the best place to start, with hundreds of articles and video tutorials, along with a friendly support team waiting to answer your questions.
If you want a partner who will help you every step of the way as you head down the path toward providing accessible video, as opposed to a vendor who will just sell you services and then disappear, you’ve come to the right place.