In April 2017 I had the pleasure of attending the Web for All (W4A) 2017 Conference Dinner at Kailis Trigg. While it was a wonderful networking opportunity, the highlight for me as a Deaf Woman, was the live captioning services during the keynote speaker, Dr Scott Hollier's speech, kindly provided by event sponsor aiMedia.
Many event organisers have taken the first steps towards accessibility, by organising Auslan (sign) interpreters for their events. This is certainly a wonderful thing, but unfortunately it doesn't reach everyone with a hearing impairment. I have never learnt to sign, and so my main experience with conferences and similar events has been one of frustration, exclusion and disappointment at not being able to partake like everyone else.
The live captioning at the dinner was a surprisingly simple service to access- I simply went to the web address provided and typed in a code, which allowed me to access the event page. Then, as the speech commenced, I had a transcript of the speech that I could read at the same time. It was very user friendly! I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the quality of the transcript. For those of you who might use the subtitle option while watching live events on television, this was nothing like that. Unlike live captioning on television, there were no unintelligible phrases, words out of context or sentences that made no sense. I was able to follow the entirety of the speech, enjoying the same jokes everyone else did and really hearing the message of the speaker. I can honestly say that I have never had this experience before.
This is a brilliant service, and I would encourage everyone to utilise it. The real world benefits are enormous. Not only does it increase accessibility for everyone (surely a goal we should all be aiming for) but it allows for a record to be created of all conversations or speeches made. For university lectures, having a transcript of the class content would be hugely beneficial to all students. Instead of concentrating on taking notes and potentially missing key information, the student can pay greater attention in class and still have notes to look back on. In a business capacity, having an accurate transcript of meetings would remove issues of misinterpretation and reduce workload.
The benefit of inclusivity and greater efficiency in the workplace and beyond is greater marketing potential- by opening up your events and services to more people, you increase your custom. This is something everyone can get behind!