Who can be a member of a committee?
From the Chair
Welcome to the second edition of the Global Alliance of Speech-to-Text Captioning newsletter. Since our launch, we have been contacted by captioners, consumers, consumer advocacy groups, educators, and industry representatives from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, all of whom share our vision of universal accessibility to the spoken word via all forms of captioning. These are the individuals who will make up our membership, and together we will advance captioning for all!
As we enter our third week, we are grateful for our Founding Members to date. The support of Founding Members allows us to hire necessary staff, including a CEO, legal counsel, lobbyist, and website and digital media developer. We’re not there yet, and we still need your help! Please check our website at www.speechtotextcaptioning.org for Founding Member opportunities.
Remember, our general membership will open on November 1. We have one class of membership – members join as individuals, not as companies, corporations, or entities; every member has voting rights; your annual dues are $195. By mid-December, we will reach out to all members to solicit candidates interested in being considered for the four remaining Board of Directors positions. To fully reflect the diversity of our membership, two of these positions will be filled by deaf or hard of hearing caption consumers and two will be filled by representatives from industry or education.
Creating certification and credentialing of all methods of captioning will be our first order of business. Our testing committees will be comprised of our general membership. With your knowledge and expertise, our real-world testing will become the standard for certification or credentialing.
The Global Alliance is here to serve anyone who creates captions, uses captions, or advocates for captions. With input from you, our members, we will create, and post on our website and social media, guidelines to educate and assist caption consumers when selecting the form of captioning that best suits their needs.
Your all-volunteer Global Alliance of Speech-to-Text Captioning Board of Directors is excited to be entering its third week. We are thankful for the support you have shown us. We can’t do this without your commitment and involvement. We need you!
Steve Clark, Chair
The Founding Members Campaign is the fund-raising effort to start achieving the goals of the Global Alliance. We are grateful for the support of the Founding Members to date. With each pledge of support, we build our membership. The diversity of our membership is what will help us make captioning better for those who rely on it.
“As a long-time consumer of captioning services in all aspects of my life, I knew I wanted to become involved with the Global Alliance organization when I first became aware of this new opportunity. For the past forty-plus years, I have been a staunch advocate for high quality captioning services for people living with hearing loss; so it was very natural for me to become a member of this new group. Captioning services are my life-line to the hearing world; so I wish to continue to share the importance of accurate, high-quality services and to advocate for others who may be deaf or hard of hearing. I’m delighted to become a Founding Member, to serve others and to make a difference wherever I can. Thank you.” – Bea Lyons
Bea Lyons, Supporter
Nick Wilkie, Supporter
Thank you for being a Founding Member!
From the Treasurer
Hi! Some of you know me, and some don’t. So, let me introduce myself. I am Caryn Broome, Treasurer of the Global Alliance, and a realtime voice captioner since 2012.
I started as a part-time court reporter and then was blessed to be given the opportunity to caption for two deaf clients. One was the deaf mother of a young girl in a juvenile case; the other was a deaf client defending himself in a murder trial. Very quickly captioning became my life, practically an obsession to learn all I could about this amazing profession.
I am also a trainer for voice writer captioners entering this field that I dearly love. And let me tell you, I DEARLY LOVE this profession. I’m reminded of the Army slogan that this is the “Toughest job I have ever loved.”
For captioners, whether voice or machine, what can make it tough to enter this profession are the “standards” of it. Not just accuracy standards, though I will address those later.
For years, captioners have needed an association dedicated solely to captioning, ensuring that this “tough job that I love” advances with the ever-changing world we live in.
But first, a quick definition of standards. Whenever we eat out, use the Internet, or our children play with a toy, we’re benefiting from standards that were thoroughly discussed, with best practices identified and agreed upon and implemented by a company or organization.
I have been training voice writers for about two years. As a trainer, the number one question I am asked is, “What is the standard?” In other words, “What is the accuracy rate for captioners?”
There are multiple answers. Depending who you ask, it can be 96% or 97.5%; it can be at 180-220 words per minute. In the UK, it can be “up to 300 words per minute and accuracy rates very near 100%.”
Often, the next question is am I familiar with captioning companies and their “standards.” These standards vary, but the largest company I work with sets accuracy at 98.5%, and at 200-225 wpm.
What about offline captioning and automatic speech recognition? How does ASR play into our role as captioners, and what influence should we have or do we have?
Often, the answer is, “Whatever the regulatory bodies or companies set as their standards.” And that, my friends, is a major concern for anyone who produces or uses captions.
Even if I had a “correct answer,” is that answer based on current requirements of our consumers? Is it based on the abilities of just the voice or steno captioner? Is that answer just for North American captioning? Does it include standards set by other countries? Is American captioning the standard that other countries use?
If we haven’t created a more cohesive platform that recognizes all types of captioning, and from all types of captioners, then how do we grow at all? With technology and its abilities moving forward, shouldn’t captioning and its abilities be moving forward as well?
The other major concern is that all of this affects caption consumers. Because we have differences, our clients receive differences.
All that said, we recognize that all captioners agree on this: Our consumers deserve the best. They are truly the reason most of us became captioners.
When industry standards are implemented worldwide, positive things happen. Those standards help us to work smarter, to improve our accuracy and efficiency, and to be more innovative. In turn, these standards benefit consumers and push our industry to higher levels worldwide.
The Global Alliance recognizes the need for captioners, consumers, and industry to really look at what is happening in our world and be prepared for what will surely happen in the near future. At the Global Alliance we welcome everyone to the table to ensure that any global standards created have been designed with our consumers’ communication accessibility needs at the forefront.
As an association dedicated to all methods of captioning, dedicated to the needs and desires of caption consumers, and working to understand and educate regarding all forms of captioning, the Global Alliance vision of “Universal accessibility to the spoken word via all forms of captioning” will quickly become reality. I, for one, am eager to get started! I hope you will join us.
Caryn Broome, Treasurer