Innovations in technology and the vital role of skilled professionals
In May 2014, BRITE and Nated Scotland curated an international conference hosted at Edinburgh University, where 100 delegates came together to evaluate a range of cutting edge strategies to support d/Deaf students at college and university. Two key themes of the day were the potential of mobile and web-based technology to revolutionise the provision of communication services, and the vital importance of skilled professionals to manage and deliver support for students.
The image shows a sign language interpreter at the University of Cincinnati communicate with a student. The student accesses live video of the interpreter on his iPad. He could be based elsewhere on campus, or even off-campus e.g. having an informal study session at a classmate’s home. This system provides students with a new level of flexibility in how they access communication services. Research into the implications of this mode of service delivery was the subject of our keynote presentation.
A summary of the presentations and key topics follows. To request a copy of the conference brochure, transcripts of the presentations, or copies of slides, please contact Kellie Mote at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the third year running, BRITE partnered with CALL Scotland to deliver ICT and Inclusion: Two days of seminars and exhibition targeted at people working to include learners with additional support needs. Niall Hardie and Fil McIntyre from BRITE were both presenting semimars on technology which may assist learners. With twenty exhibitors and twenty eight seminars, the days were pretty full and some people were unable to get to hear Niall and Fil. A summary of Fil’s seminars is below, with Niall’s to follow shortly.
Tablets and Accessibility: iPad vs. Android vs. Windows
This session featured a brief run through of the accessibility options on the three main tablet operating systems. iOS (on the iPad) came out strongest by far with a wide range of visual and cognitive support options (and more to come in iOS7), but this is not to dismiss Android and Windows. Fil was keen to point out that users’ accessibility may be down to the size or format of the tablet. In this case Android offers a much wider choice due to the amount of manufacturers providing Android tablets.
For Windows 8 tablets the accessibility options are very similar to a desktop PC, but (for example) provide a much wider range of high contrast display settings when compared to iOS’s normal or negative option. Also the fact that a Windows 8 tablet can run full versions of Windows software may open it up as a possibility for users who cannot find an app equivalent to their access software.
BRITE can provide half-day seminars on the subject of tablet useage. Two examples are “Tablet Tools” and “Bring Your Own Accessibility”.
Getting Captions Onto Your Video the Easy Way
Captioned videos can assist not only deaf students, but also those for whom English is a second language. It is generally time consuming and expensive to get the captions onto videos. In this session Fil showed how to easily synchronise a transcript to your video by uploading both the transcript and the video to Youtube. Youtube’s voice recognition will ensure the correct text is shown at the time it is spoken.
For further practical details on how to do this see this earlier post on the BRITE blog.
Automatic captioning (also known a sub-titling) of videos to make them accessible to Deaf or hearing impaired viewers – sounds great doesn’t it? Google has recently introduced a system on YouTube which claims to auto-caption any English speech using in-built speech recognition.
Captioning a video can be a long and expensive process, so an automatic method should ensure more videos can be captioned. One of BRITE’s assistive technologists, Fil McIntyre, reports his findings and provides tips to get started with captioning…
I tested a few videos but found the results were far from satisfactory and could not be relied upon for giving an accurate transcript of the speech. It seems that unless the speaker has very clear and precise speech (Barrack Obama is a good example) the auto captioning is inaccurate. Any background noise can also affect the accuracy. But all is not lost! There is a semi-automatic method to caption videos.