Discussing Machine Transcribed Audio in the Professional World of Accessibility

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) state that accessible content must be POUR: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. In order to create anything in a professional capacity that caters to all audiences (especially including people with disabilities) the final product must be something that is accessible in these four capacities no matter the consumer's capabilities. Because this means that output must have such a multifaceted outcome, there's a lot of work required to ensure accessibility is achieved. Recently, many companies, business, and industries have been using technology to circumvent some of the work involved.

A great example of this is the growing popularity of automated transcription software used in professional environments.

The accessibility industry has many facets and ensures that products & services as well as devices or environments are able to be used by any person who requires them. This doesn't necessarily refer to a specific industry, like law, education, or entertainment.  Instead, it could refer to any industry that needs to be accessible to all audiences - this includes industries like law, education, and entertainment, as well as many more! If you think about it, the "accessibility industry" really refers to all industries.

Computerized audio transcriptions in particular have made huge strides for the accessibility community. Because accessibility is involved in all types of work, there are so many examples of technology making accessibility in itself more feasible. But today is Friday, after all! So to keep things light, we're just going to talk about two.

YouTube (a small video hosting website you can find online, perhaps you've heard of it) released to users an automated captioning feature in 2009.

This allowed machine transcribed captions to appear at the bottom of any video uploaded to the site.

Not only did this make the content on YouTube far more accessible to the hearing impaired, it made content creation that catered specifically to this audience far more accessible to YouTubers. That's an accessibility double whammy!

This is a pretty commonplace use of machine transcribed audio to create accessible content for anyone unable to access a video's audio. It's also a great example of how this type of transcription software would work in a professional environment. Anyone could use technology that is similar (if not the same) to this YouTube feature in order to efficiently create captions, documents, or any other text-based print.

In addition to creating accessibility for the hearing impaired, machine transcribed audio has also opened up new possibilities in the workplace for the visually impaired.

If you've ever used speech to text on your phone, you've used software that quickly transforms spoken words into digital text. While these transcriptions may not always be 100% accurate (if you've read our transcription fail articles in the last few weeks you know exactly what I'm talking about), they still offer the ability to quickly transcribe text which is pretty accurate!

Audio transcriptions can completely replace all manual typing, which is a huge step forward in efficiency for any industry that uses them. This is, of course, a highly accessible tool for the visually impaired. Audio transcriptions are a way for anyone to translate speech into text with the click of a button and without ever looking at a screen.

Overall, machine transcribed audio has made huge strides in all industries that require accessibility. Not only have automated transcriptions made products, services, and environments more accessible to people who use them, but the rapidly growing availability of audio transcription software has in itself made industries more accessible.

As technology becomes more and more commonplace, people seem to have a lot to say about how much time we spend in front of screens and the negative impact of social media, but as long as technology is actively improving for the accessibility industry, it's possible that we owe it a lot more credit than it currently receives.

Thanks for reading!

Check back in with us next week for a another look at how automatic transcriptions are being used across a wide variety of industries.

Want your industry to be featured in our next post? Feel free to tag @vocalmatic in a tweet about your industry and how you use automated machine transcriptions in your work.