Why I love Captioning for Conferences

I had been to conferences with live transcription before, but SRCCON 2014 was my first time seeing them at a mainstream conference. The transcription services even inspired a battle between a debate champion and the captioner. Three years later, and I’ve gone back the transcripts a few times a phrase or remind myself of the conversation.

I am generally a person without any hearing related disability. I’m sure years of playing music, working concerts, and listening to headphones has left me with some hearing loss, but in general, I can hear at conferences. Except sometimes the room is loud. Or a person near me is talking. Or the mic isn’t held close enough to the speaker. In those cases, I’m reminded of one of the top reasons I love live captioning for tech conferences.

Anyone in the room can become a non-hearing person

Anyone has been to a conference has sat near someone that needed to comment on the presentation while it is going on.  I’m sorry if that person was me for you. Having the ability to see what was said, helps me when I miss something that was spoken.

Real-time captioning also allows the audience to be less focused on taking notes since the talk is already available in text. Some people are less auditory of learners and thus the written record allows them
learn using a method that works better for them.

Transcripts allow the speaker to see what we said

Like many speakers, I have verbal ticks that I fall back on. Transcripts allow me to see how many times I say “you know” or begin a sentence with “so”. The live transcript can also be utilized to help create a blog post from your talk.

People need it to attend

As much as captions help me, they can make the difference between someone being able to learn at an event and someone not being able to learn. 360 million people have disabling hearing loss. Captioning of conferences can help make it possible for that otherwise could not participate to participate.

The other day, a video made the rounds of a man being gifted Enchroma glasses and experiencing color for the first time.  Helen Hou-Sandí asked the question “What if we thought about web accessibility work as bringing these moments to people?”  What if we also thought about event accessibility as bringing these moments to people?

The right to learn is the right to earn. Education, both formal and informal, is the foundation for advancement. Captioning can break down a barrier that prevents people from learning. By enabling all people to learn, we enable all people to earn.

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