By Kimberly Shea, CRC
Live captioning for conferences is vital to inclusion, and it has become a primary focus in event planning.
Organizations have realized that with the assistance of high-quality, accurate realtime conference captioning, their audience reach is experiencing exponential growth. Captioning for conferences and other events enhance comprehension and engagement, uniting audiences and increasing participation like never before. One of the keys to event planning is: The better the engagement, the better the experience.
As we consult with event organizers regarding their accessibility needs, the most common statements we hear are:
1) “That would be great, but it’s just not in the budget.”
2) “I didn’t even think about that!”
3) “I thought artificial intelligence did that.”
Benefits of equal access, the quality differences in accommodation options, and the meaning of Universal Design.
Once these things are understood, equal access is no longer an afterthought. Incorporating accurate realtime captioning in the planning stages of events eliminates the financial obstacles, and accessibility becomes one of the first things people think about instead of a last-minute quest resulting in low-quality captions that are useless to the consumers.
As a result of effective event planning and securing highly skilled stenographers for live captioning for conferences and other events, a reputation is established for being an organization that champions diversity and inclusion. When bottom-tier options with false claims of performance are deployed, it most often derails the attention of the audience and never fails to leave attendees with the impression that an organization’s claims of inclusion are disingenuous. Forethought eliminates the risk of embarrassing mistakes and a waste of resources on inferior accommodations that garner negative feedback and reviews regarding an event.
When you put human stenographers in control of your live captioning, your benefits over artificial intelligence are:
- immediate error correction
- situational awareness regarding technical/logistical analysis to avoid unexpected AI system fails
- human ability to predict and adapt to environments on the spot
- linguistic adaptation and discernment regarding neologisms and nuances
- punctuation for intended meaning and readability
- ability to instantaneously add and change speakers, terms, and names
- accommodation of industry-specific jargon based on multimodal learning on site
- captions that are fully recognized and utilized for your SEO purposes
- professional judgment and accountability
Oftentimes event organizers truly want to make inclusion a priority.
There can be a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the goal of being forward-thinking in reaching a larger population and giving everyone a chance to participate. Organizers may research and line up the best of ASL interpreters, which is wonderful and should most definitely be included during the planning process. They put a check mark next to accessibility and call it complete. At that point, thinking their bases are covered, they move on to the next task. What they fail to realize is that ASL is a benefit only to those who speak the language.
You avoid a disappointed audience by truly understanding the meaning of accessibility and equal access.
It is extremely important to know the purpose for different accessibility services. ASL is the first language for a large population, and many have become bilingual by learning it later in life. While it is a beautiful language, simply because a person has hearing loss does not mean they are fluent in ASL.
On the other hand, by also adding professional, accurate realtime captioning to your events, you are providing an accommodation for accessibility that aids the majority of your audience.
While automated speech recognition is helpful in many scenarios, human stenographers are non-negotiable in cases of accessibility accommodations where accuracy and content retention are mandatory. It makes all the difference in the success-versus-failure scenario. Captioning for conferences and other events is a learning tool for your audience that aids in their focus and improves comprehension.
In addition to the communities of the deaf and hard of hearing, live captioning is extremely helpful for:
- auditory processing disorder
- English language learners
- live tweeting
- sound disruptions among the audience
- alternate on-site /remote viewing areas
Live realtime captioning makes your event accessible, increases your attendance, extends your reach, and reinforces your attendees’ information retention.
Additionally, as search engines crawl text on your site, captions provided by stenographic realtime captioners that are embedded in video files are fully recognized and utilized in SEO whereas automated speech recognition captions are known to be counterproductive to your goals due to inaccuracies in content and lack of reliability.
If you attend an event and see near-flawless realtime captioning, you are witnessing the work of a stenographer, a human captioner, writing at speeds ranging from 260 to upwards of 300 words per minute. Without exception, only a human is capable of this quality and reliability. The benefit of realtime captions has no boundaries.
Universal Design occurs at the beginning stages of the event planning process.
The cost factor: There is always a solution to making your event accessible.
- Many companies have been proud to sponsor captioning for tech conferences in addition to captioning for STEM conferences because they believe in and support diversity. They witness the advantages of all-encompassing group participation and experience extremely positive feedback. Captioning for conferences is a trend that has ignited a worldwide practice of inclusion at events related to all topics of discussion.
- Another option is planning with regard to ticket sales. Depending on the size of your event, the cost of high-quality, accurate, and dependable stenographic realtime conference captioning could cost less than a trip to the local coffee house.
Seeking captioning for tech conferences, STEM conferences, academia events? Contact Kimberly Shea, CRC for a consult, (469) 328-7151.