Webinar: CaptionSync Accessibility Services

This webinar provides an overview for staff of Kansas Board of Regents member organizations on the range of services that AST offers, and how to set up and use those services.

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

>> Hi, my name’s Kara Stark, and Art and I are with Automatic Sync Technologies. So, we arranged this webinar to provide you some education about captioning and video accessibility services. Brandon Utech there was the one who arranged with us, and so that’s probably who you heard from. Our contact information, of course, is going to be given. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

One thing that prompted this session today has been a long time coming, is that we did sign a contract with the University of Kansas System to provide video accessibility services. And, part of that agreement allows all campus higher education to use that agreement. And so, that agreement does offer you special pricing, special support services, that kind of thing. And so, we want to make sure that you’re all aware of that and that you can take advantage of all the video accessibility that you need. So, today’s presentation, we’re going to give an overview of what we offer, and then, hopefully, you’ll follow up individually with us on if you want more specific information about anything.

Our company name is Automatic Sync Technologies, and our product is CaptionSync. So, don’t get confused between the two names. We do offer, like I said, a variety of video accessibility services. Our most common offering is post-production transcription and captioning, but we do also offer a variety of services like transcription only if you have audio files. We offer audio description services, and that’s an accommodation for blind and low-vision users. And, we also offer live captioning services for events. So, this would be common for, like, webinars and convocations, that kind of thing.

So, these are the things we’re going to go through today. We’re going to show you how to create an account, submit content, use the reporting. Like I said, our most common service offering is our post-production captioning which we do offer in English, Spanish, and French. With our system, you can submit your own transcript if you already have one. Most of our clients don’t, and so we will do that for you. Transcription only, like I said, is available for audio only files. The real-time captioning is available for live events. We do offer real-time in both English and Spanish, and we also have real-time note-taking service as well. And, audio description, like I said, in the accommodation for blind and low-vision users.

So, to get started with us, we try to make this process really easy. This is a screenshot from our website for our account sign-up form. And, basically, you just fill out the information here. A couple things to note, this “web captions” is the most common service, so you’ll just want to check that box. We do ask you a question here if you need a purchase order from us. So, if your campus requires that you issue a purchase order, you can do that. We don’t actually require that, so you don’t have to check yes on that. But, if you do check yes, then our, your account will prompt you to enter in a purchase order when you go to make a submission. And, of course, we can talk more details on that on an individual basis. But, here, in the reference code, this is where you’re going to put in UKansas.

Now, this, if you put in UKansas here, this will automatically set you up with the correct pricing for the system, and obviously, set your account up the right way from the beginning. Now, if you didn’t do that and you want to change it later, of course, you can just contact us. And, if you realize you didn’t get set up with the correct pricing. And, just to touch a little bit more on pricing, we do have a variety of service options. The, we charge based on the length of the submission you make and the services that you order. So, for example, you can do, you know, our longer turnaround for post-production captioning is four business days. We do also offer two-day, one-day, and eight-hour, depending on the needs that you have. And so, this pricing goes down to as low as less than $2.00 per minute of content that you have. If anyone would like more information about pricing, of course, please just contact us directly. But, like I said, we do offer so many services, we’d want to get you, you know, the full schedule for that.

So, want to get into different ways that you can submit content to us. So, we try to make this as easy as possible for you to actually get your files to us. So, there are many different ways you can do that. The first is, you know, you just create your account. You log in any time. And, you submit files to us, you know, actual files. We can accept a variety of input files, so all the major audio or video file types we can accept. We also offer a free batch upload tool called AST Link. We offer it for Macs and PCs. So, you just install that tool on your system, and then, you’re able to batch upload many files at one time. So, that can save you a lot of time. Also, our List of URLs. So, you can copy and paste URLs to public URL. So, that would be like a YouTube, a Vimeo. We also offer Box, Dropbox, those kinds of URLs are acceptable too, and that’s a really nice way to go because if you have a large file, that’s a good way for us to get that from you.

We also offer many third-party integrations. So, these would be lecture capture and online video platforms such as Brightcove, Kaltura, that kind of thing. And, Art’s going to talk a little bit more about that in just a minute. And then, we also do have a direct integration API. So, that would be an option for someone if you’re going to have quite a bit of content, and you want, just a really easy workflow for that.

Okay. So, this is a screenshot from our submission page. This is where you’re able to upload your files and/or your List of URLs. You can mouse over any of the sections that have this question mark here, and it gives you more information when you’re in the system. You can also, at any time, click on the help and go to our support center and search our support tutorials. We have a lot of support tutorials listed there that are designed to guide you through the different features and options on our system. So, you’re welcome to, you know, help yourself to our support there. You’re also, obviously, welcome to call us any time.

When you first make your account, and you’re a new user of our system, we encourage you to either send me a quick email so we can schedule a time, or even just give me a call. And, I can walk you through your first submission. And, that way, I can make sure you get set up with the correct settings on your account from the beginning, you know, that you’re getting the correct result files back, and that you’re able to make submissions as easily and as efficiently as possible.

You’ll see under this that this process here you give your file a description. You select the turnaround time. There’s a dropdown box there where you get to select the different turnaround time option you want. You can also add in transcribe guidance. So, if you have any information that will help our transcribers to make an accurate transcript, that’s where you would add that in.

One really, really important feature of our system is that we use professional transcribers to make transcripts. So, we do not use any sort of speech recognition technologies. When we receive files from you, from any of the different ways that you can submit them, we assign them to a professional transcriber who will listen and type out a very accurate transcript. So, you should expect very accurate results because, you know, like I said, we are not using any sort of automated system. So, that is a really key feature of our system that we’re very proud of, and we’re constantly working to improve our quality.

So, we offer these features such as adding in guidance and that type of thing. So, like I said, I’m more than happy to help you make submissions and get your account set up from the beginning so that you get it going, get started on the right foot.

You can see this Advanced Settings box here. This is where you might want to check, when you first get logged into your account, you might want to check that out because that’s where you set up your settings on your account. And, of course, they have a lot more documentation on how to do that. One thing you might do when you get logged into your account is you might want to enable your account for some of the services we offer. So, this would be, like, for the integrations that we offer with the third-party lecture capture and online video platforms. We have tutorials that walk you through exactly how to set up those integrations, but this is where you’ll go with on the Settings tab. And, you’ll add account features from the drop-down box here. So, any of the integrations you want to do, if you want to add, you know, live captioning, audio description. This is where you’ll do it, and you’ll just select the option you want from the drop-down box and click this request account feature.

There are no fees or extra charges to add any of this kind of things. So, you’re not going to be charged if you add features to your account. It’s just going to enable you to do that. You’ll only actually, I guess it’s fair to mention you, there’s no fee or monthly fee, setup fees or anything to setting up an account with us. We’ll only actually charge you when you make a submission to our system.

The most common invoicing that we do for education accounts is as a post pay or monthly invoicing account. So, what that means is that you submit any content you want, and we will process it, return files, and then, we’ll invoice you on the 1st day of the following month after submissions are made. And then, you can log in and pay by credit card or you can send a check. And, that’s how most “Edus” prefer to pay for services. Okay, I’m going to let Art take over for a minute here, and he’s going to talk more about our integration options.

>> Thanks, Kara. So, Kara didn’t describe too much about our history, but we’ve been around for about 15 years now, and we specialize in the education space. And so, we’ve also been building what we call workflow integrations with various video platforms for almost that entire time. We started over ten years ago with integrations to the common lecture capture platforms, like Mediasite, Panopto, Echo360, and over time, we added integrations to newer systems, sometimes called online video platforms which includes Kaltura, Ensemble Video, and others that you can see here listed. There’s so many of these that we can’t describe all of them in detail on this webinar, but we’re happy to set up individual or small group sessions with you if you want to go into a particular integration.

I know Brandon who helped set up this webinar is interested in Mediasite, especially, and I work with all our partners on these and really do like the Mediasite integration. It’s very flexible and powerful and allows you to schedule captioning in advance and that sort of thing. So, let us know either in the question and answer period or later if you want us to dive in on a particular integration.

Kara, let’s go to the next slide. There’s a different type of integration that I also wanted to point out here. So, and these are kind of newer. So, some schools, especially smaller schools, don’t have the budget for a big, expensive lecture capture system, but they still need a place to store their videos and a way to easily caption them, right? So, we started building integrations with different storage platforms that are sometimes kind of more generic storage platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and those are really good alternative for organizations that don’t have the budget for a full-blown lecture capture or online video platform. So, I just wanted to highlight those.

Also, Canvas, if you use the Canvas learning management system, we have an LTI application that makes it really easy to embed your caption videos into course pages and assignments and that sort of thing. So, let us know if you use Canvas and are interested in that.

Okay. Let’s go to the next one. And, the last thing I wanted to highlight which is kind of related is the CaptionSync Smart Player.

So, the Smart Player is a video player that we built that kind of adds to or builds on a lot of the things that you might find in a typical video player from your video platform or from YouTube or that sort of thing, and we put a lot of emphasis into making it as accessible as possible. It complies with all the guidelines in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.0, at the level AA level which is what most colleges and universities are striving for. There’s a lot of extra features to kind of increase engagement from the students and leverage pedagogical principles that, you know, are outlined in Universal Design for Learning, for example. And, so, for example, you’ve got a transcript on the right that provides a different form of representation of the content, and you can search across this transcript and jump to a particular point in the video if you want to review a certain section. That sort of thing. So, it’s really great from both a learning perspective and from an accessibility perspective. And, couple, as I mentioned, it’s embeddable, either with the LTI applications or even if you don’t have an LTI application. You can get an embed code that allows you to embed it on your own page.

The last point that we have on here is it’s a great way to support audio description. We’re not going to dive into audio description in this webinar, but it is one of the requirements of WCAG 2.0 level AA. And, it’s designed for blind and low-vision learners. But, if you have any questions about audio description or how that works, just let us know. So, why don’t I hand it back to Kara, then, for more details on.

>> Great!

>> Accounts.

>> Thanks, Art. Okay. Just a few more slides that we wanted to show you about the different services and features you can add on your account.

You can make an account that has users associated with it. So, if you want to have multiple users that all have the same billing source, you can do that, and this slide is showing you, you would just click on this. The primary user for an account can click on the Settings tab, manage users, and add a new user. So, you just type in the person’s name, email, phone number, and then, they’re going to get emailed with their own login ID and password. And, the really nice thing about this is that you, as the primary user, you get to say what kind of privileges and rights that account has. So, you can allow them to, you know, see and pay invoices or not, add features or not. That kind of thing. So, it’s very specific to your campus.

Like Art said, we work with so many higher education organizations. We have over 5000 clients, and over half of those are in higher education. So, we kind of come across every scenario as far as how campuses want accounts set up. So, there are many options here, and I’m happy to talk through the options with anyone individually. But you can create accounts that are not associated with each other. So, if you have different departments paying for the services, you might want to, you’ll probably want to set those up not associated with each other. But then, you can also set them up to be associated with each other. So, just keep that in mind. And, of course, you can edit the privileges on an account any time, add new users, and disable new users as well.

We do also have some extensive reporting features on your CaptionSync account. You can at any time query a history of all your submissions. You can, you have the option to put it into a, download into a CSV format so you can sort it however you want into Excel. You can allow other users to have this visibility into this or not. We also have some usage summaries and analytics so that, like, a primary user at a campus might want to have the control and be able to see what’s been submitted and, you know, the history of submissions to get an idea for budgeting and also get an idea of, you know, how much captioning you’ve sent and how much you plan to send.

We do have an extensive support center where we post all kinds of tutorials. I’m happy to send out direct links to any of those any time. You can poke around and explore in there whenever you want. You also have the option to open a support ticket at any time and engage with AST tech support. We’re very proud of our tech support. We’re extremely responsive and fast. We have a rating of over 98%, as you can see. So, not only can you just access our documentation, but you can engage with our support team any time. You can also just send them an email whenever you want as well.

So, this last slide just shows some reference links to a direct link to our support center, a link to using our Smart Player that Art talked about. One application we didn’t really talk extensively about, but the Smart Player does allow you to view third-party YouTube videos with captioning on them. And, it uses the Smart Player as an overlay. So, you’re not changing the original video in any way. This is something that comes up with a lot of our “Edu” clients where you have a faculty that wants to show a third-party YouTube video or a Vimeo video or, you know, another video that they don’t own but they want to show it in class. So, they need to have the captioning for that. So, the Smart Player is the solution that will help you with that. And, this link will take you to the article giving you the details.

A link to our audio description. Audio description is something that you might not have heard a lot about yet, but we suspect you probably will. It is part of WCAG 2.0 level AA requirements. And so, a lot of campuses are exploring audio description and just getting into that now. Our version is an extended audio description, and I’m happy to send anyone a link to a demo of how we’re doing it, and it is using the CaptionSync Smart Player. The new account sign-up form, here’s a direct link to that. So, you’ll have that.

Okay. So, we’d love to have questions from your guys. I know we talked about a lot of different things. Probably went over things pretty quickly. Like I said, we’d love to engage with each of you individually if possible, at another time, but does anyone have questions now?

>> One thing I wanted to pose that comes up fairly frequently is what do I do if I have a very specialized content area that, you know, has difficult vocabulary, organic chemistry, let’s say? Are there ways that we can handle that?

>> Yeah. Great question. So, because we use professional transcribers to make our transcripts, we have a great solution for that. So, we do have subgroups of our transcribers who are subject matter experts. So, we do have a chemistry subject matter expert field, a group of transcribers. So, what we would do is you would just want to contact us and let us know that that’s the kind of content you have, and then we will restrict your submissions to go to that transcriber group who has that expertise in the field. You’re also welcome to give us guidance. So, if you have, like a faculty member website that you want to point us to or a list of terms, you can add that in under the guidance as well. And so, we’ll process all those files with that transcriber group, and then, you’re welcome to switch your group back to a different, either back to the general transcriber group or to a different one. And, those settings are actually, you don’t even have to contact us to do that. You can, but they’re actually on your account as well. So, under the Advanced Settings, they’re on there, and you’re able to see a dropdown box of all of our specialty transcriber pools. So, you’re welcome to change that whenever you would like.

>> Sounds good. Kara, there’s a couple questions that have come in via the chat. One is what email should we use if we want to schedule an onsite meeting? And so, we may need some clarification on that, but I guess the first part of that question is how to contact us.

>> Right. Okay. So, I’ll type in my email address here in the chat. Our phone number, if you would rather by phone, that’s in the presentation as well. But, just contact me directly, and I’d be happy to set up a demo session. I just want to, you know, obviously ask what specific topics you’re most interested in as far as, you know, integrations or if you have third-party YouTube video, that kind of thing. And then, I can set up a Zoom session, and you can invite anyone on your campus that would be interested in attending.

>> The other thing, I wasn’t sure if this question is getting at, but we provide a wide range of services related to video accessibility. And, we’re a little bit unusual in that regard, so what we started with, and most of what we do is post what’s called post production captioning. So, you have something that’s recorded, you want to get it captioned, you just, you know, either upload the video file to us or use one of the integrations or send us a link. That’s all done via your CaptionSync account or one of the integrations. There’s a lot of ways to do that.

For live captioning or real-time captioning, sometimes called CART, we can also caption those sessions. So, if you’re asking about, you know, if you have a meeting on campus and you want to have it captioned for better accessibility or you’re doing commencement ceremonies or that sort of thing, we can definitely handle that as well.

>> I see some more questions about pricing in here. It seems to be the next one. So, as you know, we do have a contract for Kansas Higher Education, and I’d be happy to send the pdf. If you want to give your email address, I’ll just send it right after we hang up. But, basically, you know, we offer a variety of services, so you know, there’s different turnaround-time options that affect the price. So, if you just, you know, let me know the services you’re looking for, of course, I can just follow up by email afterwards. So, please just give me your email address, and I’ll just send that pdf.

>> Did you talk about foreign languages, Kara? Somebody was asking.

>> Oh, sorry. No, I didn’t. Okay. So, we offer transcription services for English, Spanish, and French content. So, that’s a setting that you make on your account. So, if you don’t change it, we’ll assume your content’s in English since, you know, the majority of our content is. But, if you click on the Advanced Settings button, there’s a language tab, and you would just select Spanish or French, if that’s what you were planning to submit. And then, you would submit all your files, and then you would change that language setting back to English when you’re done, assuming that your next set of content was going to be English. So, that is, you know, you submit a Spanish audio or video file to us, and we send you back a Spanish caption file.

Now, we also offer translation, and so, this language thing can actually get pretty complicated because sometimes people want translations, and sometimes they want just captions in the language of their original source video. But we do offer translations, too, between English, Spanish, and French. So, you could submit an English video to us, and we can make the transcript and captioning in English, and then we could translate that caption file to Spanish. So, that’s a service that we offer as well, and that’s a per minute fee as well.

>> Someone was asking about primary contact at K State. Brandon, you’re at Kansas State, I know, and you put a link for the contact contract pricing. I assume that page answers that question. Okay.

>> I think, yeah, I think that answers part of it. And, again, you can get the contract pricing at that page. It’s kind of buried a little bit under the information for Automatic Sync. But there is no specific point of contact for the contract itself at Kansas State University. It’s just a purchasing contract through the Division of Purchasing. So, but, yeah, if you have, you know, questions about, you know, how Automatic Sync works, you know, we’ve done some stuff with them before. Certainly, feel free to shoot me a message.

>> One thing that comes up that I just want to make really clear is that there is no extra charge for any of the integrations or for the Smart Player. So, the Smart Player just comes with any submission that you make to us via the URL submission, and there is no extra charge for any, setting up any of the integrations. One thing I wanted to mention really quick, too, was that we do offer a free redo and a free caption editor tool. So, there’s two different tools that you can use that we offer so that you can edit captions. Ideally, you won’t have to edit caption files very often, and that won’t come up too much. But, just know that you can do that for no charge.

>> And, I would just add to that that because of our process and our system, that sort of tool is much less necessary and you’ll use it much less than you would with other types of captioning vendors.

A lot of newer vendors now are trying to use automatic speech recognition, and so they’ll either run it through speech recognition and then expect you to do the work of fixing it up. Or, they’ll use a kind of crowd sourcing method that maybe chunks it up into small, 30-second or one-minute pieces and sends it out to, you know, different people all over the world. And then, they piece it back together again. And then, of course, you have some consistency problems which you would have to edit. But, with our method, it’s going, the whole file is going to a single transcriber. It can be someone who specializes in the subject matter, if you want. And, you can also provide guidance, as Kara mentioned, if you have specific names that, or terminology that’s used. So, you should expect it to be above 99% accurate right out of the gate, but if you ever have any questions or problems, just let us know and we’ll fix it for you.

>> The next question was about specifically word accuracy rate, and they mentioned 95%. But you actually should be getting quite a bit higher than that. I don’t know if you’ve done much research or seen result files that are 95% accurate, but that actually does have quite a few errors, and at a 95% accuracy in our opinion, it’s really not a good accommodation. And so, we do aim for 99 plus percent accuracy levels.

Now, the only thing that would make that, your files not be as accurate is if, you know, the record, the audio recording was poor quality or you had a very accented speaker, you know, or something like that. That can affect the accuracy rates. But, if you have pretty good audio quality with a fairly good, clear speaker, that’s when you should definitely expect above 99%.

Next question says can you transcribe mathematical equations? We can, and we do follow the DCMP guidelines. That’s the closest thing to a captioning standard. So, we’ll follow their guidelines for how we caption math terms, and I’d be happy to send you a link to that standard and that guide and that’s how we’ve trained our transcribers is to follow those guidelines. If you ever had any specific requests of how you would like mathematical equations to appear, you can add that in on your account under the guidance, and our transcribers can follow that, assuming it’s, you know, something that we can do. But I’d be happy to give you a link to that, the math guidelines because that does, math equations can get a little bit tricky.

>> We do a lot of math, though, and including for major educational publishers, so it’s not a problem at all.

I’m glad we had such a large group, and we appreciate all your time, and as we mentioned, we’ll have a, we have recorded this, and we’ll have a link to it available early next week. We’ll send it to everybody that we have emails for, and we’ll create a special page with the recording and the transcript. And, it’ll be viewable in our Smart Player that we described. So, if we don’t have your email and you want this followup, please let us know. I also apologize. We, normally, we have a sign-up page where we capture your emails beforehand, and we didn’t do that this time. But, if you need any follow up, just don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

>> Feel free when we do get the session up that you forward it to any of your colleagues that might be interested in learning the same kinds of things about video accessibility.


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