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    Whiteboard Wednesday: Closed Captioning Prices and Quality

    By: Aylin Dunham
    Closed Captioning Prices

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    For more than 12 years, Automatic Sync Technologies has been able to consistently lower our transcription and closed captioning prices without sacrificing what is most important to our customers — high quality captions, and top-notch support for a broad range of captioning scenarios.

    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.


    Video Transcript:

    >> Hi this is Noelis with Automatic Sync. In today’s Whiteboard Wednesday we will explain how AST has been able to consistently lower our transcription and closed captioning prices without sacrificing what is most important to our customers — high quality captions, and top-notch support for a broad range of captioning scenarios.

    Fifteen years ago closed captioning prices were, on average, ten dollars per minute of media. The prices were high because of the labor-intensive and time-consuming nature of transcribing audio and creating timestamped caption files.

    AST realized that automation technology was one of the best ways to bring down captioning prices, because it can cut down on the time-consuming aspects of the captioning process. AST was founded with the goal of creating technology that would accelerate the captioning process and make it more efficient.

    Our CaptionSync technology was developed with initial funding from a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Over the years since, AST’s steady innovations and time-saving refinements have made captioning more affordable, without sacrificing quality, compliance, security, or customer service.

    We tested a wide range of methods that had the potential to bring down the cost of closed captioning, but we realized that we should definitely not remove professional transcribers from the process, as they are the most important factor in creating quality captions. By using our smart automation techniques coupled with specialized, professional transcribers, we have been able to bring down closed captioning prices by 70% or more in the 12 years since we started.

    Each year we add additional efficiency improvements allowing us to bring captioning pricing down even further, but we never lose sight of our core mission: to help organizations provide equal access to high-quality educational opportunities, to as broad and diverse an audience as possible.

    Unfortunately, some of the more recent entrants into the educational captioning market do not share these same values. In an attempt to push prices even lower than what we have achieved, some companies lose sight of the original goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Here are the main areas where these new providers fall short.

    Quality & Compliance

    Captioning quality and compliance with ADA requirements go hand-in-hand, and both are at risk when attempting to use speech recognition to remove the cost of professional human transcription. Similarly, using untrained and crowd-sourced labor for transcription allows the company to cut payroll, but leaves room for many mistakes and lapses in compliance.


    Some companies keep prices down by crowd-sourcing their labor, sending it overseas or to anonymous untrained transcribers. This puts unreleased material and sensitive information at risk. Take some time to research who has access to your content after you send it off to a captioning company. It’s best to put your trust in a company that hires professionally trained transcribers.

    Customer Service

    Downgrading the availability and quality of customer service is another way some companies choose to cut costs. The prices might be cheap, but if you have a question or issue, it could take days, or go unsolved completely.

    It’s important to find the right balance of price and quality. Smart improvements in technology are the best way to cut costs, but if technology is not perfected, it should not be used to replace key aspects of a process. At AST, quality, customer service and security are our top priorities, and they will not be neglected. Instead, we continue to improve our technology and automation processes to give our customers the quality they deserve at a fair and affordable price.

    Thank you for watching this Whiteboard Wednesday. If you have questions about our captioning approach and processes just ask! Or you can read some of the resources listed below.


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