There are multiple forms of captioning that can be applied to videoconferencing, and options and implementation details vary according to the videoconferencing platform. It is important to understand their differences.
The most effective form of captioning is that performed live by a professional captioner, typically through a service known as communication access real-time translation (CART). This should be the preferred solution for public meetings and other situations in which quality captioning is necessary and essential—and should always be available to persons with disabilities who request it. The trained human captioner can provide a number of advantages, including:
Another form of captioning is automated captioning, ordinarily built into the videoconferencing software, in which speech-to-text technology generates the captions displayed. While the accuracy of such technology has improved greatly in recent years and continues to do so, it is still generally less than completely reliable. This form of captioning can be of some help, and is usually appropriate for small, informal conversations or other situations in which live captioning is not feasible.
Considering the videoconferencing platforms most commonly used by state agencies, at the time of this writing Microsoft Teams supports automated captioning (though it’s labeled “live captions” in the user interface), and Zoom supports (for at least some paid plans) both automated captioning and integration of live captioning through third-party CART. A general overview of the captioning capabilities of these and other platforms is available in this knowledge base.
While particular platforms may or may not support direct integration of captioning, particularly live captioning via third-party remote CART, essentially all can be used with non-embedded services that provide captions independently, typically in a separate browser window.
All forms of captioning rely on high quality, clear, and audible audio for the captioner (whether human or computerized), so regardless of the type being used it is always important, as much as possible, for meeting organizers and speakers to:
For more information, please see the other links provided in the Virtual Meetings and Remote Work section of the Kansas Partnership for Accessible Technology (KPAT) Resources page.