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New software writes closed-captioning for videos

New software writes closed-captioning for videos

by Chase Carter, Senior Staff Writer

Editor: We’ve been following the progress of speecg recognition software for several years and are starting to see commercial applications for it (e.g. CapTel phone). We now learn that a developer at Oklahoma State University has released an automatic video captioning system that provides 80% accuracy without speaker-specific training. That’s not good enough for prime time, but certainly a huge step towards a commercial application.

Here’s the article from the Daily O’Collegian. It is republished with their kind permission.


The Institute of Teaching and Learning Excellence at OSU has developed the first automated closed-captioning software to help the hearing impaired.

“There’s no other school or company or anybody that has something like this,” said Wade Price, manager of merging technologies at ITLE and the developer of the software.

One of ITLE’s purposes is to serve professors’ technology needs – from Pow erPoint presentations to recording lectures.

Videos posted on ITLE’s Web site for distance learning will be closed-captioned for the handicapped and hearing impaired.

“Because we help teachers get their videos on the Internet, ITLE had a need to stay compliant with the laws,” Price said. “Part of those laws say when you post a video on the Internet, it needs to be captioned.”

In the past, the closed-captioning process had to be done manually with a live person transcribing the video.

The process could take hours and ITLE did not have the manpower to transcribe every video it posted on its Web site, Wade said.

The new software is about 80 percent accurate in translating audible words to text. The process is about twice as long as the video it transcribes and is fully automated.

“It’s exciting to me for those that are impaired,” Price said. “Although you might argue that they’re getting transcripts that are only 80 percen t accurate, it’s going to be so much easier to caption videos. So many more videos are going to be captioned that wouldn’t be otherwise.”

Price wrote the software from scratch in his free time and plans to let OSU use it at no cost.

He said he hopes to market the software to a larger audience as it is further developed.

“The software is pretty amazing,” Price said. “It puts OSU at the forefront and gives hope to those other entities that may need some captioning solutions.”

ITLE works directly with OSU Student Disability Services to provide closed-captioned video to any student who needs it.

To achieve a more accurate caption, ITLE plans to send out the transcribed text to individual departments for professors to edit and refine – all in the hopes of benefiting the student.

“We’ve worked on this in one way or another for a couple of years now,” said Kevin Sesock, assistant technology specialist with Student Disability S ervices.

“In many ways, we are blazing some trails.”

Sesock is in charge of coordinating transcribed lectures from ITLE to professors and back again with revisions.

He said since the program is in its infancy, it is unknown how the faculty will receive it. Because of the further-reaching implications of the software, he doesn’t foresee that as a problem.

“It may grow so fast that we need to invest some more resources into it,” Sesock said. “We can make content searchable so a video can be searchable by students who want to find specific sections of what was delivered via lecture. That’s very helpful for someone studying for a test as well as providing accommodations to students.”

Sesock said he hopes students and faculty will embrace the new program since it will help not only those with hearing impairments but also other students – a theme carried throughout Student Disability Services.

“We’re continuing to try to make that distinction that what we’re doing, and the things that we’re pushing for help everyone,” he said.

Sandra Busby, the deaf and hard of hearing specialist for University Counseling Services, said it’s a program she’s been pushing since she arrived at OSU in 2004.

“We get complaints every semester from deaf and hard of hearing individuals that say the online material needs captions,” Busby said.

While many professors are cognizant of their students and supply closed-captioned films, she said others are not as flexible and don’t wish to change their teaching formats to accommodate one student.

“If a film isn’t closed captioned, the student has to decide whether to look at the images, the interpreter or his notepad if he’s taking notes,” Busby said. “It’s a big circus trying to figure out which information is more important.”

With this program, Busby, Price and Sesock said they hope OSU will become more accessible to not only the deaf and hard of hearing but also all students on campus with disabilities.

“A deaf person should have the same access to materials a hearing person has,” Busby said.

Copyright 2007 The Daily O’Collegian

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