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Hunter to Offer Captioned Classes for Deaf

March 26 2009 | by

The City University of New York’s Hunter College, online course developer DigitalChalk and IBM have gotten together to make short work of accessible distance learning. Hunter, IBM Research and online course developer DigitalChalk will partner on a project that will add speech-to-text captioning capability for deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Hunter will be able to create a multi-media online “classroom” with a transcript synchronized with over 90 percent accuracy to an associated training video.

The on-demand accessible learning project works by having the Hunter College professor create online course content, including video, and upload any standard-format video file to DigitalChalk, where it’s automatically transcoded into Flash video. At the same time, the audio portion of the video is transmitted to IBM, where it’s transcribed using advanced speech-to-text technology.

DigitalChalk includes the transcribed text as captions in a Flash video along with any PowerPoint slides the professor chooses to include. The combined technologies provide what DigitalChalk calls the first-ever automated, closed-caption transcription service for video-based online learning.

Russell Stinehour, CEO of Infinity Learning Solutions, the parent company of DigitalChalk, says the next goal is to make distance learning more accessible to the visually impaired. In a distribution to media outlets, Stinehour said the transcription service “has further implications in optimizing and tagging content within videos for ease of use by visually impaired students, as well.”

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