Closed Captions for Meetings?

I have trouble hearing in big meetings. Sitting close and microphones only do so much. Nor do I know enough ASL to benefit from interpreters. I was mulling this over one day while watching some TV. As the words marched their way across the bottom of the screen it hit me that a Closed Caption system for meetings would be a godsend! So I started looking at Dragon.

I got in touch with a representative from Nuance and she quickly squashed my idea. Her main reason was that you must train the software to recognize your accent. So unless each person presenting in a meeting has time to train Dragon, it just wouldn’t work. But I didn’t see that as a reason not to try. If the training was short and painless, then it may be worth a shot. So I was able to procure a copy and so I started playing around. It didn’t take me long to see the training issue was the least of the obstacles.

Below we see what I had in mind. A slide from a presentation is augmented with the DragonPad open in the corner. It captures my speech and creates a closed caption for my fellow hard-of-hearing folks.


Unfortunately, not all is as it appears. Let’s take a closer look at the DragonPad


Here’s what normal hearing-folk would have heard:

The next step in the technology ladder is the pilot period new line the pilot is when we take a technology and put it to work at partners period new line the hardware is purchased in the appropriate groups brought in to lend a hand period new line together comma with the assistance from the vendor functionality of the technology is fully explored period

Conversely, if I spoke normally, the Slide and DragonPad team would yield the following result.



But this morning on the T, I was standing next to a lady with headphones turned up so loud that I could damn near make out the words to the song. It’s events like these that reaffirm my belief that it won’t be long before the majority of people have bionic ears just like mine. Once that happens, the demand for such services as I describe here will rise and I think that technological advances will rise to meet the demand.


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