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Are Speech Technologies and AI Replacements to Human Captioners?

A screen filled with code in front and a female doll is behind it

I attended an event about speech technologies a month ago to which I was invited by an organizer who assumed that I wouldn’t need a live CART human captioner to follow panelists and a sign language interpreter for a networking part (that I asked her for) – despite her knowing me for many years as an experienced accessibility consultant, a book author, a public speaker, and seeing me use human communication access service providers at events.

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How to Add GOOD Quality Captions to Videos in YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook

Screenshot of a video with Svetlana in front of camera and captions saying: I would like to discuss how to add captions to online videos

There are many videos online that either don’t have captions or have auto captions. Auto captions are not of acceptable quality. Bad captions are not better than no captions. Machine generated captions fail to meet many good quality captioning guidelines. It’s like reading a book that is not edited and includes a lot of grammatical mistakes – which makes it hard to enjoy the book. Low quality captions are like a poorly written book.

YouTube captioning tool itself is not a problem if it’s used the right way. Sadly, many people don’t realize that it’s a responsibility of media owners and producers to make their videos accessible and to ensure that their captions are of acceptable quality. They blame bad captions on YouTube, not the lack of responsibility of video owners and producers. Many also don’t know how to create good quality captions in their videos or how to download a .srt caption file that can be uploaded to Vimeo, Facebook, and other video platforms with a captioning feature.
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How to Make Your Events Accessible for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Attendees

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As an independent consultant and speaker, I am not able to attend events and to give presentations there as often as I would like to. It’s an important way for me to be able to learn from other speakers, to network with other professionals, and to meet potential clients. It is hard enough to be an independent consultant, it is much harder for me to be an attendee with hearing loss. I’m often being excluded and feeling frustrated due to communication access barriers that event organizers could easily remove by providing quality communication access services such as live captioning or sign language interpreters or both. Some event organizers are more than happy enough to provide those services but most do not.

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