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How Captions Improve Accessibility in Video Conference Meetings

Zoom Live Captions Accessibility

RevBlogAccessibilityHow Captions Improve Accessibility in Video Conference Meetings

The TV exploded in popularity way back in the 1950s.

However, it took until 1972 for TV to become accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. “The French Chef” made history by becoming the first television program to provide captions. 

Since then, many technologies and laws have been created to improve the lives of the deaf and hard of hearing. There are vibrating alarm clocks, smoke detectors with flashing lights, and doorbells that provide visual alerts.

Still, there’s always a lag.

Video conferencing became popular in the early 2000s with Skype and iChat. However, almost 20 years later, many deaf and hard of hearing people don’t have access to this technology.

Thankfully, times are changing.

Today, there are tools like Rev’s Live Captions, which automatically convert everything that’s said on a video call into closed captions in real-time.

Here are three ways that live captioning improves accessibility in video conferencing.

1. Captions Improve Accessibility for Work and Education From Home

Digital communication, online learning, and working from home have been on the rise for years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.

Now, schools are closed across the U.S and 46 percent of American businesses have implemented remote-work policies.

As a result, video conferencing tools like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, and WebEx have become essential to educators and professionals overnight. 

The image below illustrates the dramatic spike in revenue Zoom has experienced due to the pandemic:

The increasing reliance on video conferencing is making things more difficult for people with disabilities.

Ordinarily, deaf and hard of hearing students cannot participate in streamed lectures or video conferencing classes. And employees with disabilities may be unable to work properly.

This presents a challenge for educators and businesses.

Educators must find ways to provide an equal education for deaf students, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). And businesses must provide reasonable accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Live captioning can help to solve these problems.

By transcribing everything that’s said on a conference call in real-time, disabled people can access education and communicate effectively from home.

In other words, employees can join video conference meetings, and students can participate in live-streamed classes and conference calls with teachers.

2. Captioning Reduces Dependence on Other Accessibility Tools

It’s incredibly expensive to provide access to education for the deaf and hard of hearing. On average, the lifetime cost of education for individuals suffering from hearing loss is a whopping $115,600 per child.

It’s also very time consuming and involves a lot of moving parts.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, out of 5,000 post-secondary educational institutions with at least one deaf or hard of hearing student, only:

  • 67% provided sign language interpreters
  • 20% provided oral interpreters
  • 75% provided classroom note-takers
  • 65% provided tutors to assist with ongoing coursework
  • 33% provided listening devices

To put it another way, not every student receives the support they need. As Lydia Callis, a Nationally certified sign language interpreter, wrote in Huffington Post:

“Education programs for deaf and otherwise disabled individuals in this country are in an unfortunate state, and in even further jeopardy as more children are enrolled in mainstream schools that are underfunded, lacking in support, and simply not equipped for people with specialized educational requirements.”

Live captioning can help reduce the deaf and hard of hearing’s dependence on these other aids.

For example, this simple and affordable solution reduces the need for interpreters as the deaf and hard of hearing can read what people are saying in real-time.

3. Live Captions Help People with Hearing Disabilities Feel More Included and Independent 

The deaf and hard of hearing experience the world differently to most people. 

Interpreters and note-takers create bridges for the deaf and hard of hearing, but they also create barriers. For example, people with disabilities may feel more involved with their interpreter or note-taker than with the business meeting or school lecture itself. 

Live zoom captioning allows the deaf and hard of hearing to engage more directly with conversations and teaching materials.

When using live captioning, people with disabilities can read everything that’s said. They’re also able to respond in real time.

The result?

Live captioning can help to lessen feelings of isolation and exclusion. It can also help the deaf and hard of hearing to experience more independence and self-reliance.

Summary

About 2-3 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S are born with a detectable level of hearing loss. And more than ever, these individuals need accessible video content and calls.

Rev’s Live Captions can help.

In summary, closed captioning improves accessibility in video conference calls for the deaf and hard of hearing by:

  • Providing students and employees with the opportunity to communicate with colleagues and teachers from home.
  • Reducing their dependence on expensive and time-consuming aids, such as interpreters and note-takers.
  • Allowing them to feel more included and independent.