UK study pushes for mandatory real-time captioning for all students

Tuesday, 9 February 2010 15:34pm

A UK study from researchers at the University of Southampton offers a model solution for the adoption of real-time captioning technology in university lecture halls. The 2009 study by Mark Wald & John Mark-Bell, entitled ‘Benefiting disabled students by developing an application that uses captioning of multimedia to benefit all students’, examined both the accessibility needs of students who are Deaf or hearing impaired whilst also exploring the myriad of benefits of real-time captioning for lecturers and students alike.

Real-time captioning refers to the automatic generation of captions produced by speech recognition technology such as Dragon and Via Voice. This offers a readily available and more cost-effective solution when a stenographer is not available. The key benefit here is that it creates an inclusive education setting for students with hearing impairment who “liked the fact they were not the only people to benefit from the technology as it drew the entire class into a collective learning experience”. Although earlier versions of speech recognition technology produced captions without pause or punctuation, more recent versions such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, combined with real-time editing software, were found to produce reliable captions that enhanced teaching and learning.

The study also found that the captioned material proved useful as learners could search text transcripts for further revision and was especially useful to support English as a Second Language (ESL) students. It also gives teachers an easier means to index their recordings and identify areas for revision as students can ‘tag’ areas they don’t understand through web-based learning forums. The University of Southampton is looking at ways to caption multimedia recordings for all students to create inclusive and accessible learning environments.

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