Auto-Captioning

Note: Auto-captioning is a new feature in MS Teams and is available to all staff and students. Staff requiring this service should contact Andrew Normand (anormand@unimelb.edu.au).

Introduction

There isn't always time to arrange captioning by a third party. In these circumstances, auto-captioning can be very useful.

MS Teams and Auto-Captioning

Hard of hearing staff members have said that the auto-captioning feature in MS Teams has been a huge help in their meetings. They note that the having the other participants turn on captioning helps a lot, because seeing their own words misinterpreted makes people slow down and speak more clearly.

We tested MS Teams with a script of 1300 words and found that it was 97% accurate (words only, not punctuation). However, the missing 3% does make a big difference. Auto-captioning really struggles with non-standard words, such as names.

Auto-captioning has so far been enabled for specific staff, together with their colleagues and students. Infrastructure Services are currently working on enabling this for all staff and students.

A MS Teams meeting with auto-captioning

MS Teams captions are most effective if everybody in the meeting has them turned on. In that way, participants can monitor their own audio quality.

Costs

Auto-captions are free within MS Teams. It is currently available to all staff and students.

Pros

  • Cost. It is cheaper than real live-captioning.
  • Ease of use. Transcripts can be set up by users themselves.
  • Captions are integrated into the Teams interface.

Cons

  • Accuracy. Auto-transcripts are only about 85% - 90% accurate which can be a deal breaker, especially when discipline specific vocabulary is involved.
  • Engagement. Students with hearing impairments advise that as soon as they see a video is auto-captioned, they turn it off.

Further Information

Zoom Meetings and Auto-Captioning

Zoom does not currently have auto-captioning built-in and has no plans to do so.

Otter.ai

Otter.ai is offers an auto transcription service for Zoom. Although they advertise the service as live captioning, it is really just a live transcript.

The difference between captions and transcripts is that captions appear at the bottom of the video screen, below the speaker. Transcripts appear in a panel to the side of the video player. This makes it harder for users to glance from the video to the transcript.

Otter live transcript in web browser next to Zoom window

Costs

Otter is offering live transcription as part of their Otter for Teams product.

The cost for education institutions is $75 (USD) per person or about $120 AUD.

Pros

  • Cost. It is cheaper than real live-captioning.
  • Ease of use. Transcripts can be set up by users themselves.

Cons

  • Accuracy. Auto-transcripts are only about 85% - 90% accurate which can be a deal breaker, especially when discipline specific vocabulary is involved.
  • Students with hearing impairments advise that as soon as they see a video is auto-captioned, they turn it off.
  • Usability. Unlike captions, which are overlaid on the video content, transcripts appear off to the side, making it harder for users to follow both things at the same time.
  • Cost. Even though it is cheaper than real captioning, it is still pretty expensive considering that there are no humans involved.

Contact Us

For assistance or to report accessibility problems please contact:

Andrew Normand
Web Accessibility Lead
Email: anormand@unimelb.edu.au
Phone: +61 3 9035 4867