Tech talk #2: The Podcast Struggle (and where advocacy is important!)

Captioning is something that all of us can agree on as D/HH people. It’s critical to our wealth and accumulation of knowledge. Thankfully most TV shows and movies have captioning available! There are stenographers (or CART providers) who help with real time transcriptions in the school environment, especially if you’re planning to attend a post-secondary institution.

But wait! There’s a large population where we don’t have access to the moola (read: MONEY) to finance captioning or transcription services. Broadcast companies are mandated by law to provide captioning for all their viewers. Interestingly, podcasts don’t fall under this category… yet.

This started my hunt for reliable speech to text technology that would be able to transcribe an audio-only-podcast (youtube usually has captioning available for this). Let me start off by prattling off a list of mostly free apps that did NOT work to spare you the time and effort:

  • Ava Scribe
  • iHearu2
  • Google translate
  • Easy Talk Lite (android)
  • LiveCaption (apple)

Overall, the above options couldn’t keep up with the podcast, multiple speakers, or it turned off randomly whenever there was a pause. Ultimately, it boils down to inaccuracy. I still haven’t found anything that works. Though my next challenge is going through this entire list of speech to text tech that CapTerra has put together. Give me a few months!

Sorry to disappoint you if you’ve come this far in reading this article… Maybe I’m just demanding perfection! Hmmph. Not to sound like a Negative Nellie, but someone in the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association FaceBook group gave me a great advocacy article relating to podcasts, aptly titled “Podcasts Need Access Also“. This is where advocacy can come into action. I am (and have been) bugging the podcast organizers to provide transcripts, at the very least. If there’s something you’re really interested in, I encourage all of you to contact the organizations directly – and let them know that you have contacts with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, Hearing Loss Association of America, or even the website that I just posted above. Sometimes people just don’t realize that there’s a large population that is missing out!

There is hope though, but I won’t have an opportunity to find out how accurate/useful it is until June 2019. It’s part of an indiegogo campaign, and is called SpeakSee – a type of transcription service that works in multiple environments, where multiple voices are present. Stay tuned!