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Breaking down the roadblocks to live captioning

University Business, October 2017

What roadblocks are colleges coming up against in expanding access for hard-of-hearing students during class and at live events?

“While budgets and regulatory awareness can be roadblocks to accessing university classes and events, technology is the greatest challenge to delivering live captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“From lecture halls to football stadiums, universities need to establish clear audio for accurate captioning and secure connectivity between captioners, facilities and learning management systems to ensure real-time and uninterrupted access.” —Heather York, vice president of marketing and government affairs, VITAC


Link to main story: Higher ed takes actions on captions


“So many schools fail to make campus events, like graduations or on campus speakers, accessible.  CART Captioning really needs to become a universal design concept. Further, some schools balk at using remote services. Remote services by and large are more cost-effective and practical. 

“Another roadblock can be the disconnect between disability services and professors. Some professors, usually because of a lack of understanding of the process, will refuse to release any information about their class. Students often suffer because they cannot understand supplemental materials such as slides, videos, YouTube media, etc.”   

—Philip A. Hyssong, CEO, Alternative Communication Services


“One of the biggest missteps is to only consider upfront technology expenses when planning a budget for implementing a captioning solution—while overlooking inherent and ongoing operational expenses. Automatic speech recognition solutions can be an affordable alternative to human captioning services.

“However, a common misstep in this area is to overestimate the capabilities of any automatic solution right out of the box without proper planning and testing. Breaking down roadblocks all comes down to one thing: budget.

“How big or small a school’s budget for captioning is will stem from their awareness of the importance of accessibility, the legal requirements surrounding the issue and the benefits of implementing a quality solution.”

—Dave Watts, marketing manager, EEG Enterprises


“Many schools fail to push hard at finding the most appropriate accommodations for students. The school may recommend a low-end product and not offer an opportunity for the student to explore other options. That includes using sign language interpreters rather than captioning just because the student has used interpreters prior to college.

“Captioning may have greater value to a college student, such as the (free) transcript that is available after class—great for study purposes. The roadblocks are the coordinators not knowing what accessibility options are available and letting a budget figure dictate the accommodations offered.

“The student should receive services that are the best fit for them, not the least expensive or the most familiar product or the most easily obtained.”

—Bill Graham, founder and owner, CaptionAccess


“Most schools are trying to tackle captioning and web accessibility the best they can. While there are a lot of solutions for this, the most successful schools focus on planning and centralizing. Having solutions ready to go the moment an accommodation is requested is critical in providing an equal experience for deaf and hard of hearing students.

“Similarly, being more proactive about captioning is important to enhance the learning of all students. Centralizing captioning across departments and programs can help universities qualify for much lower pricing, often a barrier to implementation. Further, having an administrative advocate is critical in spreading support for accessibility across campus.”

—Lily Bond, director of marketing, 3Play Media


Marcia Layton Turner is a Rochester, New York-based writer.

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