You'll need to make arrangements for this ahead of time, but working with a captioning service will make your event more inclusive for your audience. If you're operating with a tight budget, consider creating a captioning sponsorship package to cover the cost of professional captioners. There are also cheaper AI-powered solutions available, but bear in mind they will be less accurate so may be a false economy.
Captions are obviously critical for deaf people and hard of hearing people, but they can also aid general comprehension in many scenarios, related to both content and context:
The audio quality is poor or there’s background noise
The speaker is speaking very quickly or quietly, or is otherwise hard to understand
The content contains lots of unfamiliar terms
The viewer’s primary language is different to the language in the video
The viewer is watching in a sound-sensitive environment or is unable to turn the volume up
The viewer’s speakers or headphones are not working properly
The viewer finds it easier to understand or focus when they can see the words written down
On that last point, there is both scientific and anecdotal evidence that closed captions can be helpful for people with autism spectrum disorders, people with auditory processing disorder, people with various forms of ADHD, and people with dyslexia among others.
Professional captioners type a specialist shorthand on steno machines, essentially "writing" each full word phonetically rather than spelling it out letter by letter. This way, they are able to transcribe up to an astonishing 300 words per minute. For online events, the captions are displayed at a dedicated URL that you can link to from within Vito so it displays next to the media player.
You can also request the transcriptions to be provided as text files following the event, so that you can re-purpose them as closed captions when uploading the session videos to watch on demand.
Choose a captioning service that has experience in your event's specific field
Allow plenty of time to check availability and book their services, up to several months ahead
Provide as much detail about the talks up-front, so that the captioner has a chance to familiarise themselves with any specialised language or terms
Give the captioner access to the hub well in advance of the event time and ensure they are familiar with the event format and timings
Ask them to provide the URL for where the captions will be displayed ahead of time so that you can display it in the hub
Ensure you have a means of communicating should any issues arise during the event
Draw participants' attention to the captioning link in your welcome session and throughout the day so they can benefit from it
The simple act of providing live captions has the potential to significantly enhance the event experience for lots of members of your audience, and we hope this chapter helps you navigate the process.