To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, multiple establishments have taken various precautionary measures. Physical interaction is limited. People are encouraged to avoid public transportation and crowded places by working at home. Schools are also implementing similar precautions by postponing physical classes and opting for a virtual solution. As a result, the use of video conferencing has increased as more companies and schools decide to move to an online format. 

Transitioning online can be difficult especially for the deaf and hard of hearing community. This is why making virtual meetings accessible for everyone is important. Fortunately, technology has advanced, and tools that offer real-time captions now exist making a huge difference to video conferencing. These captions are synchronized with the video. This is so the viewer can read the text at the same time the action itself is happening on the video.

So, how exactly do captions improve video conferencing accessibility? Here are three ways:

 

1. Work at Home and Online Classes

As mentioned, companies are highly encouraged to work at home and conduct discussions online. The same goes for schools across the country that have started to hold online classes. This calculated more is a safety measure during the pandemic, to help reduce the spread of infection. Unfortunately, this new setup can be difficult. Employees and students may have a hard time adjusting, especially people with disabilities. This can prevent them from working to their full potential.

A way to solve this is through real-time captions. This enables people with hearing disabilities to communicate with their classmates or coworkers more effectively through video conferences. Live captions can help them read what people are saying in real-time. With live captions, it’s easier for students to participate in online classes in the comforts of their own homes.

 

2. Alternative for Other Accessibility Tools

Companies and institutions have to find a way to provide the necessary accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Providing access to people with hearing disabilities can be expensive. Organizations have to expend a lot of effort such as hiring sign language interpreters as well as purchasing listening devices. It also requires a lot of time to ensure that everyone is accommodated. Unfortunately, not every organization or institution can afford these accessibility tools, especially during these trying times. 

To solve this, companies or institutions can use captions as an affordable alternative. This can ensure that the deaf and hard of hearing can participate even without other aids. There are transcription services with extra closed captioning service for videos, giving a big advantage to deaf and hard of hearing people. 

 

3. More Inclusion and Independence for People with Hearing Disabilities

Although interpreters and note-takers enable people with hearing disabilities to work more effectively, it can also make it difficult for them to establish a deeper connection with their coworkers or classmates. This can cause them to feel isolated or excluded. Accessibility tools and elements such as captions and subtitles, on the other hand, are easier and much more convenient. This will give people with hearing disabilities a much more wholesome experience, eliminating the feeling of isolation. This will also give them independence and flexibility with their own workload and their own work process. 

Fortunately, with live captions, the deaf and hard of hearing can communicate directly with others and respond in real-time. As a result, they will feel more included and their relationship with others will also improve.

 

Now that you have an idea of how invaluable captions are to improving video conferencing accessibility, you’ll be wondering how to acquire captions for your own videos. Here are several ways you can caption your videos.

  • Transcribe manually and caption your videos. You can either edit your videos and hardcode the captions into them. You can also create .srt files which can appear as options when you play the video.
  • Hire a professional transcriber.
  • Outsource a transcription service with a team of seasoned transcribers and editors.

 The more you incorporate caption in every video you have for a class or for work, the more you’re improving video conferencing accessibility. And the more you improve this accessibility, the more you’re making it better for the community.