The Transcription Pros

Here’s what high quality closed captions are made of

closed captionsHaven’t we all come across that one video where the captions are unintelligibly out of sync or oddly placed? It’s annoying, right? Especially if you’re banking on the captions wholly to help you understand what’s going on in the video.

While video producers are aware of the benefits of captioning videos, captions are often added as an afterthought. Inevitably, this makes them resort to options like getting captions crowd sourced (with inaccuracy rates of approximately 5% ) or using the automatic closed captioning features of a video editor (with inaccuracy rates of 5%-50%).

So, to put it simply, high-quality captions are those that are not added as an afterthought.

Now, the FCC regulations for closed captioning specifically recommend captions for all programs broadcast on television (including movies and music videos) and for only those videos shared on the internet that have earlier been broadcast on television by a public network (this could be anything from movies, music videos, to workout videos).

This, in turn, prompts many video producers to take the captioning regulations lightly even though captioning would be great for increasing their user base.

Characteristics and legal compliance

Honestly, out-of-sync and ill-placed captions will do you more harm than good.

To boost inclusivity, keep your viewers loyal and happy, and fulfill legal compliance conditions, invest time in rigorous quality control of your captions before uploading or broadcasting your videos.

Accuracy

According to the FCC regulations for closed captioning, all spoken words or song lyrics, background noises, and nuance must be sufficiently and comprehensively expressed through captions for inclusivity. Caption creators are also responsible for ensuring that the captions are accurate in terms of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and even dialects and accents.

Essentially, high quality closed captions should able to aid in comprehension and enrich the video viewing experience of viewers who depend on such assistance.

Synchronization

The prime goal of including closed captions in videos is to provide viewers who are hard of hearing a comprehensive and clear viewing experience. But if the captions are either lagging behind due to the speed of the speech or skipping ahead before a speech starts, measures must be taken to adjust the appearance of the captions to add to the viewing experience.

Placement

The legal guidelines for closed captioning outline specific rules about the placement of captions in videos, detailing font type as well as size along with other best practices of caption placement.

Now, to improve the experience of your viewers, you should ensure that the captions do not block out important portions of the video, including faces, credits, or essential graphics. Line spacing (that is, ensuring that captions are not overlapping) and font color are also important factors that aid video comprehension.

Completeness

It’s pretty much explicitly implied that captions should depict all aspects of the video from the beginning to the end, including all speech and sounds.

This relatively ambiguous instruction leads transcribers to interpret completeness quite literally, often leading to hilarious outcomes.

Which sounds are significant?

Completeness is definitely an aspect that contributes to the accuracy level of captions, but with completeness resulting in adverse outputs at times, you may be tempted to ask whether all sounds in a video are significant.

In this context, this Texas Tech University study raises some important questions about the rhetoric of captions:

                What do captioners need to know about a text or plot in order to honor it? Which sounds are essential to the plot? Which sounds do not need to be captioned? How should genre, audience, context, and purpose shape the captioning act?

In an ideal scenario, following a video from the beginning can give you a fair idea of the plot of a video, and after a few minutes, visual cues can replace some of the most obvious captions.

Example 1: Imagine you’re watching a suspenseful scene whether the protagonist is panting. So this would make a caption such as “[X breathes heavily]” redundant. What would, in fact, add to the viewing experience is captioning background noise, for example, “[A door slams in the distance.].”

Example 2: In an online e-learning video, captioning details the course guide clearing their throat would be redundant since it wouldn’t add to the takeaway of the video.

Simply put, the dilemma of to caption or not to caption can be easily resolved by gauging the value-add of a captioned portion in a specific context.

Final thoughts

Approximately 3 million adults (a staggering 11% of the population) in the U.S. “report some degree of hearing loss” according to an NIDCD study, which makes high quality closed captions an indispensable part of videos.

Moreover, a bulk of able-bodied users who are “situationally disabled” (for instance when in a noise-sensitive environment like a library or public transport) also benefit from accurately captioned videos.

To conclude, to caption or not to caption your videos should be speculations that are best left in the past. Instead, think about how you can go beyond compliance to provide the best possible viewing experience for your videos.

At iScribed we ensure 99% accuracy in closed captioning and video transcripts – let’s talk?


10 things you need to ask your transcription vendor

audio transcriptionHave you ever walked away from a product, store, or service, baffled at the level of disappointment it brought on?

Did you wonder whether you may have had a different experience if both parties were clearer about the specifics of the service as well as expectations from deliverables before committing?

Asking the right questions can help you set the right expectations, ensure that you’re on the same page, boost project clarity, and even open up fresh perspectives.

Now, when you’re opting for a specialized language service like transcription, you need to know a lot of details about pricing and their internal processes along with other organization-specific stuff that’s seminal to your project.

Here are 10 questions you should definitely ask your transcription vendor to get the most out of your project.

1. What’s the level of transcription accuracy they can assure?

Now, if you’re wondering how to get accurate transcripts of audio files, this is the first question you should ask.

A lot of transcription companies use voice recognition software to speed up their projects at the initial stage, which often ends up compromising the accuracy level of the transcripts.

Essentially, most software-based transcripts are in the 60%-80% zone in terms of accuracy without human intervention.

Now, the correct approach to ensure at least 99% transcription accuracy is to have a hands-on, manual approach that produces accurate transcripts no matter the quality of audio.

Accurate transcripts are an asset no matter the industry.

If you’re transcribing and captioning your e-learning videos, you’re boosting the SEO of your course content and in turn expanding your user base.

As a lawyer, an accurate legal transcript can definitely speed up your case preparation process. However, an inaccurate and unclear transcript can have you chasing empty leads and turn the case on its head.

  1. Are they willing to sign an NDA?

Most professional transcription companies are happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement before they start on a project because they realize that your information may be proprietary or sensitive.

A lot of vendors even go a step further by making NDAs a compulsory part of their hiring process.

However, before you sign an NDA, ensure that both parties are on the same page with the terms proposed.  For example, for a one-time job, if you want your files deleted immediately after the transcript is delivered to you, make sure that this is included in the NDA.

Typically, most companies store this information for at least days to address any concerns you may have about the transcript.

  1. What is your typical turnaround time?

A professional transcription company can deliver accurate transcripts of audio files within a day. However, this is largely dependent on the duration of your file.

Typically, it takes about 8 times the duration of an audio file to produce an error-free transcript (so about 6-8 hours for a one-hour audio file). Moreover, if you’re a legal professional who’d like to get complicated audio files like wiretaps transcribed, the turnaround time could be higher.

So, rather than going by an “expected” turnaround time, shoot a quick mail to the client servicing department and decide on a collaborative deadline.

  1. Are their transcribers savvy with industry terms?

Transcribing vlogs or podcasts is relatively easier since industry jargon hardly comes into the picture.

However, if you’re opting for high quality medical or legal transcription services, it’s worth asking whether your transcription vendor has subject matter experts on board. This is specifically to rule out technical errors in the output that may impede further research or case building,

  1. What does their transcription workflow/process look like?

A full-proof transcription workflow should ideally involve qualified transcribers (preferably subject matter experts) in a two-stage process. The first transcriber listens to the audio (or watches the video) and produces an error-free transcript. At the next stage, another expert transcriber checks the transcript against the original audio or video before sharing it with the client.

Now, can you get accurate transcripts of audio files even when the audio quality is compromised?

Some professional companies may use intuitive AI-driven software to clear distortions or amplify the voice quality before moving on to the hands-on, two-step manual transcription process.

  1. Can they ensure complete security for your project files?

Most professional transcription companies beef up their network security and even invest in effective digital rights management (DRM) systems that not only protect your files on the servers and systems but also on cloud data sharing platforms.

At iScribed, we ensure that all your interactions with us are completely encrypted, right from payments to file sharing so your data never ends up where it shouldn’t.

  1. What does their pricing model look like?

Most vendors are happy to provide a flat per word rate for transcripts of audio or video files. However, they’re also happy to share a custom quote for your project in case you have advanced requirements like API integration or need to clean up your audio before it can be transcribed.

You can also opt for valuable add-ons like adding time stamps to your transcript or opt for a premium service that bundles all the necessary add-ons in the transcription process.

  1. What if you’re unhappy with the quality of output?

Reliable transcription companies have an effective quality management system to significantly reduce the margin of errors in the outputs.

Don’t forget to ask them in detail about their quality assessment system as well as revision process in case you need changes or are not entirely happy with your transcript.

Most professional vendors ensure they get to the root cause of client dissatisfaction to prevent recurrence of similar issues. Moreover, they may also offer free full or partial revisions depending on the issues noted.

  1. Do they offer editing and proofreading services for transcripts?

A round of editing and proofreading is usually integrated with the transcription process. This is to ensure that the transcript is coherent, accurate, as well as logically consistent.

Are you ready to kickstart your transcription project? We’d love to chat with you to get these essential queries out of the way.


5 reasons to caption your e-learning videos

closed captionsMore than 100 studies have empirically demonstrated the wide-ranging benefits of captions in videos, but many video producers and distributors, mostly private entertainment and e-learning organizations, choose to remain aloof.

Why?

Primarily because this substantially increases the production cycle of video material.

So why were Harvard and M.I.T not let off the hook?

A brief history of accessibility laws

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) is an anti-discriminatory statute that prohibits disability discrimination for complete and equal enjoyment of privileges, services, and goods offered by any place of public accommodation.
  • Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically mandate federal funded institutes to make their electronic information accessible to individuals with disabilities. While Section 504 refers to e-learning materials in public schools, Section 508’s mandates are more workplace focused.
  • When the ADA was passed in 1990, e-learning materials and online video streaming were things of the future. But the CVAA, passed on October 2010, mandated the updating of anti-discriminatory guidelines to include compliance regulations for all aspects of modern technology. In short, the ADA and the CVAA are complementary laws.

Accessibility laws in action

In 2010, the National Association of the Deaf filed a lawsuit against Netflix on the grounds that the streaming giant, with their 20 million subscriber base, was being discriminatory by not offering closed captions for their videos.

Netflix tried to argue that they were not obligated to provide captions for their videos because the ADA did not specifically address online video captioning, and the streaming giant was hoping to get off on the grounds that the CVAA had not passed its deadline.

However, the court ruled that one law did not preclude the other, and Netflix, instead of going to trial, decided to settle with the following legally binding decree: that they would caption 80% of their videos by the end of 2010 and 100% of their videos by 2014.

As a private company, do you need to comply with these laws?

Now, according to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, all public schools, universities, and other institutes funded by the federal government must provide closed captions for their e-learning material.

While these anti-discriminatory laws do not specifically address closed captioning for e-learning videos by private companies, they can be reasonably interpreted to suit societal changes, as seen in the case of Netflix (whose user base of 20 million+ subscribers make its services “a place of public accommodation”).

So, compliance with accessibility laws aside, now more and more private e-learning institutes are stepping up to caption their videos, even though this could increase the duration of their video production cycle.

Here’s why.

It’s the right thing to do

Of all things, education should be inclusionary. By adding close captioning to your e-learning videos, you’re providing millions of individuals with hearing disabilities the opportunity to pursue their desire for learning at their own pace and with sufficient aid.

Improved comprehension

The primary benefits of captions in videos are easy understanding of words that are spoken quickly, simplifying the comprehension of heavily accented speech, and helping students pick up technical terms accurately.

In essence, captions and transcripts of videos help both native speakers as well as ESL learners perceive the contents of a video material better.

Moreover, according to a study by Curtin University, “Students who utilise captions as part of revision frequently re-engage with course content.”

No limits learning

When an e-learning video has captions, students can access it just about anywhere, even in places where playing sound out loud is either ineffective (for example, public transport) or prohibited (for example, in a library).

Makes your videos easy to cite

The success and authority of a research paper largely depends on how many times it has been cited. Well made e-learning videos are great resources for organisations who need to create documents like Whitepapers, and captions and transcripts definitely go a long to help them navigate your video content more easily.

Additionally, according to the paper by Curtin University, “…captioned video has the potential to significantly improve digital archival of files by indexing the full text, thereby facilitating searching and retrieving lecture content for all students.”

Easy translation

Transcripts and captions of e-learning videos take it one step closer to being translated in multiple languages, which in turn is great for expanding your user base.

Multimedia learning materials like audio and video can do wonders for those who balk at the thought of traditional rote learning. Moreover, adding captions to your e-learning videos can not only increase your user base but also help to establish you as an industry leader in e-learning who is determined to make a difference.

Are you looking for a trusted captioning and transcription partner? We’ll be happy to help!


Confidentiality in legal transcription: Best practices

legal transcriptionOutsourcing transcription requirements to a professional transcription company is probably one of the wisest things law enforcement personnel, lawyers, or law firms do to save time and money in-house. But before you share your sensitive documents, you need to ponder why confidentiality is important in legal transcription and ask the right questions to ensure your files are secure.

The proceedings of some cases may be public knowledge, but what about testimonies, witness interviews, or wiretap recordings? As a lawyer, your field notes give you and your client a significant advantage in court, and the leakage of this data to unwanted and unauthorized personnel could turn the case on its head.

Wiretap recordings have a dubious history in America, but when all methods of obtaining data are exhausted, a court can sanction using wire taps for gathering evidence. Historically, transcripts of wiretap recordings have been considered more than a memory aid in court – they’re in fact mandatory for unclear recordings. Naturally, any data leakage from such a document could cause major disruptions in case proceedings.

A professional transcription company understands how sensitive these documents can be and are happy to disclose their legal transcription process as well as sign the necessary documents for strict adherence to industry ethics. That being said, let’s look at some of the best practices credible transcription firms adopt to ensure complete confidentiality.

Sign an NDA for confidential legal transcription

The first step to ensure confidentiality in legal transcription is to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with your transcription company. This makes it obligatory for them to keep your personal information as well as your project data secure at every point of the transcription process and even after it has been delivered to you.

For one-time jobs, many credible firms are obligated by the NDA to delete the transcripts and audio recordings from their servers once the relevant files have been delivered to you.

Train employees for industry ethics

Credible transcription companies conduct a thorough background check whenever they bring a new employee on board because of the stringent confidentiality standards of the transcription industry.

While a company may subscribe to complete confidentiality practices, it needs to ensure that employees are also thoroughly trained for the best practices in maintaining complete confidentiality about projects.

Security measures

Adopting appropriate document security controls and protocols such as encryption, Digital Rights Management (DRM), Enterprise Rights Management (ERM) go a long way to mitigate issues that may crop up due to unauthorized sharing or pure human error.

Custom document access controls can encrypt a file, limit access to a particular server or laptop, or revoke document access based on a number of pre-set parameters.

Divide files into parts (data fragmentation)

Another great way to ensure complete confidentiality of legal transcripts is to divide the recordings into parts and share them with different transcribers. This ensures that nobody has access to the complete transcript, thus proactively ruling out the prospect of unauthorized sharing.

However, a major drawback of this process is ensuring quality, accuracy, and continuity in a narrative. Without context, transcribers may find it difficult to create a transcript that flows logically. Also, any minor difference in skill set can adversely affect the output.

How we ensure complete confidentiality of your legal transcripts at iScribed

iScribed is happy to adhere to industry ethics and we follow strict confidentiality measures in-house and for all aspects of client interaction.

  • Our employees sign an NDA when they join us
  • All client interactions on our website are encrypted by SSL certificates
  • 99% of our employees do not have access to our clients’ personal information
  • All audio/video files shared by clients are deleted from our server after 2 weeks
  • Only those who have a direct link to a transcript can access it (which is basically you when you work with us)

Looking for an expert legal transcription service? We can help!