by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady explained:
I am a full-time student returning to school after working for 30 years. Because of my hearing loss, I am now retraining in a back office setting. My hearing loss was caused by high doses of Erythromycin as a premature baby (25 weeks). One of the products I am searching for is software or something that will enable me to record my lectures in class, and have them typed out on my computer.
The voice recognition systems, like Dragon Naturally Speaking that I have looked into, do not quite do what I would like. I cannot have all my professors sit for two hours so Dragon can recognize their voices and even if they were willing, the recorded version of their voice is still different enough that Dragon software does not work. Do you know of anything else out there to assist hard of hearing people? With all of our technology advancements, certainly something has been developed.
As you have found out, the speech to text technology is not quite there yet—at least not when you have various speakers. With one speaker, a good microphone and lots of practice, it can be passable, but not perfect.
For example, I’m also trying out Dragon Naturally Speaking to caption my own presentations. Sometimes it does a fantastic job and other times what it produces is totally off the wall. I still need to work with it a lot more to get the accuracy up. Hopefully, it will prove to be quite good in the long run. However, getting it to work with any person’s voice, and without preceding practice, is still some years away.
As a result, you need something else at this time. The best that is available is real-time captioning, usually shortened to CART. If you are going to a public school or university, they have to provide you with reasonable accommodations, and for hard of hearing people like yourself, CART is a reasonable accommodation.
Real-time captioning can also be recorded so at the end of the class, you have a complete written transcript of everything said in the classroom.
There are two ways you can use real-time captioning. First is to have the CART reporter right there in the classroom with you. The CART reporter hears what is spoken and types it on their steno machine that is hooked to their computer. Their computer translates this “phonetic shorthand” into proper English and displays it on a screen at the front of the room so you (and anyone else that needs it) can read it (or it could be displayed on your laptop screen if only you need the captioning.
The other way is to use remote CART. In this case, you are connected to the captionist via the Internet—so you’d need a laptop computer and an Internet connection. Your professor would have to wear a microphone and you’d have to get this signal to your laptop. That’s it.
Remote CART is cheaper as there is no traveling time involved for the CART reporter and there are no minimum times. Also, if the local captionists are busy, they can hook you up with another captionist elsewhere in the country (or world for that matter).
I use remote CART for a number of my presentations. In fact, I’ll be using remote CART for my presentation this afternoon. It works just as well as if the CART reporter is sitting there in person.
If your classrooms have access to a fast enough wi-fi network, and you have a wireless enabled laptop, an FM mic for the professor and the FM receiver to plug into your laptop, remote CART could work very well for you.
Of course CART is relatively expensive—in the neighborhood of $85.00 to $150.00 per hour—but the school is required to pay for it if this is what you need.
If you want to learn more about CART, check out http://www.cartinfo.org.
Study the information on this web site and you’ll learn a lot.