Say hello to real-time captioning on Google Glass

2 02 2014

Did you know? 121 Captions can now stream real-time captions to Google Glass on their caption streaming platform, 1CapApp.

This means you can have a speech-to-text reporter (palantypist or stenographer), a CART writer, or an electronic notetaker listen to your conversation and stream it to your Glass as captions. BRILLIANT for deaf people!

As with all new technology, the Glass can be rather confusing at first. You are probably wondering, what on earth is Google Glass? You’ll understand what this product is and how it feels to wear one after the jump,  …. perhaps you’re even thinking about the potential uses. Wouldn’t you like to have everything captioned for you?

Marlene's screenshot of real-time captions on Google Glass

Marlene’s screenshot of real-time captions on Google Glass

To read more and to find out about user experiences:

121 Captions – Google Glass: Introduction

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Pardon? We asked for access in English not BSL – where are our captions?

5 07 2013

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The National Disabilities Conference on 4 July in London was organised by Government Knowledge. This is an important event at this moment in time as benefits are being cut, wages are frozen, jobs are cut, and people with disabilities are increasingly marginalised.

In the UK, less than 70,000 deaf people use sign language however there are approximately 10 million deaf and hard of hearing people who do NOT use sign language – they might lipread and/or use their residual hearing, and therefore rely on captions and lipspeakers. We would expect, therefore, that a national conference of this nature about access, inclusion and disability would be accessible to its OWN customers. We would also expect such an event to be accessible without having to fight for such access – which is our right, not a privilege, under the 2010 Equality Act.

NADP (National Association of Deafened People) asked Lidia Best to attend on their behalf. They requested communication support (speech to text) as Lidia is deaf, she does not use sign language. Speech to text support provision at the event was confirmed by the organisers. Delegates were asked to pay almost £300 each to attend and NADP paid a reduced fee.

After NADP’s request for speech to text support, 121 Captions were contacted by Government Knowledge for information on providing captioning for this conference. They did not book any speech to text services.

Lidia turned up to the National Disabilities conference to find only British Sign Language interpreters were available, and there was no speech to text. There was an induction loop but it did not work. A loop can work for some deaf people, but not all deaf people have enough residual hearing to be able to use one. A lipspeaker can work for those deaf people who can lipread, but not all deaf people can read lips. Therefore speech to text is a necessary service.

Mrs Lidia Best, NADP trustee

Mrs Lidia Best, NADP trustee

What is shocking is that such access had been requested by NADP and confirmed by the organisers Government Knowledge. This conference is expensive to attend, but for a disabled person to attend and to find it inaccessible, when it had been confirmed that it would be, is unacceptable. The conference organisers should be making this kind of event affordable and accessible for disabled people on benefits who would be best placed to explain the relevant issues. Government Knowledge say they have provided access for all delegates and have followed all requests – which we know not to be true. Government Knowledge checked their system and they had no special requests for communication support. They asked Lidia if she had organised the speech to text reporters herself. They even blamed Lidia for not telling them.

We have asked the deaf community if any British Sign Language users attended this conference. There has been a deafening silence.

This is a common occurrence for deaf and hard of hearing people who do not sign, to request speech to text at events and find it is not provided, or to turn up and find there are only sign language interpreters. We have had enough. This has got to STOP.

Deafness can happen to anyone. It could happen tomorrow to your friend, your parent, or even YOU.

There are 1 in 6 people in the UK with a hearing loss who don’t sign. Could you be next?

– With thanks to Mrs Lidia Best, NADP Trustee

Support ALL deaf people on Facebook: Pardon? I’m deaf. When will you listen? We need access for All!

Further comments about this event are on Facebook : Disability Rights UK

…. and to add a little more irony, check THIS out – another shining example of our government’s inclusive attitude towards the disadvantaged, where Government Knowledge hosted a conference about financial inclusion… a shame the tickets are £320!

You can join the Deaf People Against Welfare Cuts campaign on Facebook – look out for connected talks and events happening across London.





Mimix

13 06 2011

I discovered a new start-up in the Middle East, called Mimix. Mimix’s aim is to translate speech to sign langage and to teach deaf and others sign language. What do you think of it?

Mimix





How subtitles are made for TV

14 02 2011




Sports venue captioning – Done Right!

19 10 2010

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Silicon Valley shows San Francisco Giants how to use a stadium intranet for profit

When I learned how the public address system captioning is done at Giants baseball games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, I was quite surprised at how advanced it really is. The system is called FanCaption, and it’s quite successful. It’s actually part of a free market solution, because it’s integrated into the FanConnex “Digital Dugout” stadium/arena intranet system, which provides for the fan experience so crucial for sports venue success. It’s a Free Market solution that just happens to have captioning for the hearing impaired.

Do you want to see a replay? How about the batting average of a player, or the speed of the last pitch? Perhaps a between-innings interview of a player or coach? Would you like a hot dog and coke, delivered right to your seat? How about a souvenir cap and jersey? Did one of the stadium photographers walking around snap your picture? Just a couple of touches on your mobile and the food, beverage, souvenir and photo products are delivered right to your seat, with no waiting in concession lines. And if you don’t have a mobile, there are several hundred iPod Touch units at each stadium to loan. Oh, and By The Way: If you have trouble hearing the PA announcements, just click on FanCaptions and there they are, delivered in a scrollable Twitter -style news feed.

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Unlike standalone PA captioning schemes that stand alone, such as the four display signs around FedEx Field in Washington, DC that don’t really enhance the perceived value for normal hearing people, FanCaption is integrated into a system that is designed to generate concession revenue, with the captions “tagging along” for the free ride.

San Francisco’s AT&T Park was the first to roll out the “Digital Dugout” with FanCaptions in 2008, with technology partners AT&T, Apple and Cisco. The Milwaukee Brewers rolled out FanCaptions in June 2009; and this season the Oakland Athletics, across the Bay from San Fran, rolled out the system.

Baseball season is in the middle round of the playoffs, and San Francisco only has three more home games before it’s lights out until April. And because FanCaption is web based, anyone can see it in action Tuesday evening (UK time). Just go here to the Giants Digital Dugout where you can see the actual captions in progress for Tuesday night’s game starting at 9PM UK time (1PM Pacific). The 4th game of the series (schedule) is Wednesday 4:30PM Pacific (12:30AM UK), and the 5th game is Thursday 4:30PM Pacific (12:30AM UK)… And then it’s lights out until April 2011.

Sports franchises should take a look at this system, as it will provide profits as well as legal compliance for their venues. With even LFC just fetching £300 million, the pressure is on for teams to generate positive cash flow and produce profits.

Roll on, London Olympics 2012!

*Twirl*

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If you are interested in supplying a captioning service to your sports venue, contact O’Malley Communications in London or Mike at FanConnex in California.

 

 





Better telephone access for deaf people

2 09 2010

A news release from TAG hit my inbox today, calling for better access to telephones for deaf people. This saga is really dragging on, but it wasn’t easy obtaining captions either. Dan offers a possible solution. Read on …..

NEWS RELEASE

Government call for improved disabled access for 2012 must include better access to the telephone for deaf people

2 September 2010

Government must take the initiative to modernise telephone relay services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people if its call for companies to improve disabled access in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics is to mean anything to deaf people, says TAG, the deaf electronic communications consortium.

The Government-commissioned report 2012 Legacy for Disabled People: Inclusive and Accessible Business shows that almost one-third of disabled people have difficulty in accessing goods and services they want to use. Because of poor access to the telephone network, the percentage of deaf and hard-of hearing people unable to access goods and services is very much higher. As a result the economy suffers and deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens are marginalised.

Ruth Myers, Chairman of TAG, said: “This Government report reflects what TAG has been saying for a very long time: deaf and hard-of-hearing people are excluded from many social and commercial opportunities because of the antiquated way that they must communicate with the hearing world via the voice telephone. Email and texting communications only meet some needs – access to voice telephony is crucial for many employment, commercial and social purposes.

“TAG is campaigning for new types of relay services, such as captioned telephony, video relay and IP relay services, all of which are already available to deaf people in some other countries. Everyone accepts that the provision of additional types of relay service is the way forward, but the trigger for action has to be a Government commitment to find the necessary funding mechanisms. The costs are not high in comparison to the economic and social benefits which will accrue.

“We call on the Government to act now to ensure that modernised telephone relay services for deaf people will be up and running in 2011, ready for use by deaf people to make their booking arrangements for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

TAG is a consortium of the main UK deaf organisations concerned with electronic communications and is campaigning for improved electronic communications for deaf, deafened, hard-of-hearing, and deafblind people, and sign language users.

Follow TAG on Twitter @DeafTAG

Telecommunications Action Group

Media Contact

Stephen Fleming at Palam Communications
t 01635 299116 (voice)
e sfleming@palam.co.uk


Dan says this one is a no-brainer to fix – for free.
  • Go to i711.com and sign up. You’ll be prompted to be assigned a relay phone number.
  • You will enter your address (for expanded 911 service); and then choose an open number in the pool from the pop-up. Write this number down.
  • Now, you can make unlimited free outbound relay calls from your web browser.
But Wait, There’s More!
  • Now, minimize the i711.com browser window — We’ll come back to it in a few moments.
  • Next, in a new browser window, go to AIM.com and get a screen name (skip this step if you already have one). Then, either download the free AIM software, or if you already use another IM service (ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, Google Chat, etc…), download the free Trillian IM software, which will funnel all of your IM services into one small app on your desktop.
  • Install & configure your AIM or Trillian software to automatically launch on startup, and also to autoconnect on launch.
  • Go back to the i711.com window and enter your AIM screen name. You can now close that window.
  • Click back on AIM or Trillian and add i711relay to your buddy list. Send an IM with “Hello” in it and you’ll get an autoreply with a couple lines of text.

You now have two additional ways to handle calls:

  1. You can place a call via AIM by sending an IM with the phone number in it.
  2. You can now also receive voice calls on the free number you received when you signed up a few minutes ago.

Now, you can give out that number to hearing friends, family, & businesses as your voice number. When someone dials this number, they will get a relay operator who will send you an IM, and initiate the call.

But Wait, There’s Still More!

Let’s say that the only internet access you have is on a mobile (Blackberry, Treo, or iPhone) via a $35/month data-only plan for the hearing impaired. Simply load the AIM or Trillian software on your mobile, and you can place and receive relay calls, just like on your PC in your home.

Now, let’s say you live in another country and work for an American company: simply enter the US address when you sign up for the i711.com service. You will now have a free phone number in the United States for your hearing business associates (and friends & family) to reach you via relay.

How is this all possible… And for free when one end of the relay call is in America?

Every phone line in the United States is taxed about 50 cents per month to fund relay services for the hearing impaired, allowing free enterprise services (such as i711.com) to thrive in the open market providing services for us. The simple fact is businesses can leverage internet and telephony technology to provide voice relay and turn a profit while doing so.

What a country!


Personally, I would love to see the return of CapTel to the UK. CapTel uses a CapTel phone handset, and WebCapTel uses the internet and any phone including a mobile phone. I was lucky to be able to use both in my job and I found it fantastic – no one realised I was deaf. Unfortunately the company supplying the CapTel service was unable to continue providing it, as it was too expensive to do this without public or government funding. Hence the campaign by TAG to improve telephone relay services in the UK, by either improving Text Relay (formerly Typetalk) or appropriately financing the provision of services such as CapTel and VRS such as SignVideo. You can see SignVideo in action here, provided by Significan’t in London. I found the screen display very clear and could lipread the person.

In the US, you have more than one CapTel provider. You can even get it for Blackberry!

CapTel
Hamilton CapTel
Sprint CapTel
Ultratec

There is also a service called PhoneCaption.





Welcome to Everything

13 07 2010

As I settled down into my Airbus 380 seat, I wondered how Emirates would compare to British Arseways. I love watching movies so flicked through the channels. There was the usual selection of languages, quite a larger selection than I was used to, and right at the bottom was a channel for closed captions. A whole movie channel with captions – I was thrilled! I decided to try out the airline’s headphones but there was no sound. I got another pair, tried those, and bingo I could hear all the movie sound effects. With the subtitles, it was magical. The headphones fit over my cochlear implant just like a hearing person would wear them, they picked up the sound directly from Advanced Bionics’ T-mic microphone that sat at the entrance to my ear. No jiggling to get the positioning right to pick up sound. No turning the volume up to the max. It was simple, just put the headphones on and turn up the volume slightly. The cabin crew had been informed I was deaf, and they were super attentive towards me. It’s so nice when a hot guy pours a nice drink, pulls out the table and sets it all up for you with a huge smile …. and just chucks the drinks at the other passengers 🙂

Unfortunately this wasn’t a holiday but a working trip for my deaf awareness training business. (They were amazed that I could lip read them in Arabic. Tee hee.) The Marhaba welcome service whisked us through passport control and I stepped into the 43C heat of Dubai. Although it was hot and dry, every building and car was air conditioned. Walking anywhere was a no-no. Why can’t we have more air conditioning in Britain? The Arabs were super appreciative and welcoming, the food was just great, and I loved working with them. Dubai is like Canary Wharf with beaches, with scorching hot weather thrown in.  A new sound for me was the beep as I used the card to open my hotel room door – I never knew this made a sound. The hotel receptionist just didn’t understand my adjustment needs, that I wouldn’t be able to hear a fire alarm or knock at the door in an emergency, that they would have to enter my room to wake me. He kept saying they would knock on the door. He didn’t have a tooty clue.

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The Burj Khalifa,  the tallest building in the world, reached gracefully into the sky for over half a mile, and I just HAD to pay a visit. Click on this link to see it for yourself!

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I stepped into the elevator and the doors closed silently. I waited. And waited. The doors opened after 15 seconds and surprisingly we had arrived! It had been such a smooth ride that we hadn’t even realised the elevator was moving, and it is one of the world’s fastest elevators. At the observation deck on the 124th floor, I stood and looked down on people ants and toy cars, rivers of ribbon and splashes of azure blue where pools shone like jewels in the desert. The views were hazy but I could see from the Gulf coast to the Arabian desert,  I could look down on The World. The building had another 32 floors but these were residential – all sitting staring vacantly into space as there are no takers. I returned to the ground floor and explored one of the largest shopping malls in the world, with over 700 shops in the gold souk alone. (This was when my purse started to sweat mightily)

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Outside the Burj Khalifa, the 30 acre lake sparkled seductively in the setting sun and classical music began to play. The world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain, jumped 500 feet in time with the music as it danced and pirouetted around us. It was lovely to be able to hear this. This fountain ‘performs’ every half hour, every evening, at an eye-watering cost of £15,000 each time.

Check here for my video of Dubai Fountain.

I really enjoyed the beautiful architecture of the city and the attention to detail, the Atlantis at Palm Jumeirah, the amazing Burj Al-Arab shaped like a sailboat, skyscrapers built like razor blades, the traditional designs at the Dubai Mall, train stations shaped like fat cigars, smoother than smooth roads (no potholes! Can you believe it?). Close up, the detail was reminiscent of Moroccan art.

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Everywhere was sparking clean and new. Every restaurant and hotel had wonderful cakes and snacks on display. I was soooo tempted! The food was as good as the Arab hospitality.

The palatial hotel wasn’t a patch on the British ones (or maybe I just need to get out more). Check out this five hour massage – I might just book this the next time I visit! The hotel felt quite impersonal as it was so big. But it was certainly impressive and the staff were wonderful. Yet more sweet guys pouring coffee for me. Yippee. I like!

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Bigger? Better? Best? You bet!

When I left Dubai, it was such a hassle trying to get appropriate airline seats with my interpreter. She had to sit across the aisle from me so I could see her when the cabin crew spoke to me. Our reserved seats had disappeared and they couldn’t understand the concept of a hearing loss making me vulnerable in an emergency, that I needed my interpreter with me so I could have access to information. If this had been British Arseways, we might have got an upgrade, but Emirates scrabbled around and finally found us appropriate seats. The Marhaba service hadn’t been booked for our return flights as the assumption was that we wouldn’t need it. Lesson learned there!

As we arrived at Heathrow, a passenger behind me took his suitcase out of the overhead cabin and dropped it on my head. It missed my cochlear implant by an inch. I demonstrated a remarkable level of self control and said nothing but he did get the filthiest look from me.

My first thoughts on going through passport control? How dirty it all is. I love pristine marble floors and hate grubby carpets. I love air conditioning and hate sweating under the glare of fluorescent lights. I love Marhaba whisking me through passport control and hate standing in a long queue. I just wanted to turn around and go back, and have Dubai say ‘Welcome To Everything’ all over again.

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