Moving on withTranscripts

Laptop and notepad on the laps of students in a lecture

Over the years researchers have shown how it is possible to have live interactive highlighted transcripts without character or line restrictions, such as is needed with captions. This is only possible when using technology, but with many more students using tablets, mobiles and phones during lectures it is surprising to find how few lecture capture systems offer this option.

It has been shown that physically writing notes by hand can aid retention and using laptops etc in lectures means there is access to all the other distractions such as social media and emails! However, having the availability of a transcript that provides interaction allows for key points to be selected and annotation improves retention for those students who find it hard to take notes whether by hand or using technology (Wald, 2018).

Systems that also offer transcript annotation linked to the presentation slides, intergrated with the ability to make personal notes alongside the synchronised text, are hard to find. Ways to correct words as you hear or see them, where there are subject complexities can also be difficult.

As was described in our last blog it is clear that all the corrections needed, tend to be measured by different forms of accuracy levels, whether it is the number of incorrect words, ommissions and substitutions. Further work on the NLive transcript has also shown that where English is not a first language those manually making corrections may falter when contractions and conditional tense are used and if the speaker is not a fluent English speaker, corrections can take up to five times longer (according to a recent discussion held by the Disabled Students’ Commission on 6th December).

Difficulties with subject related words have been addressed by CaptionEd with related glossaries, which is the case with many specialist course captioning offerings where companies have been employed to provide accurate outputs. Other companies, such as Otter.ai and Microsoft Teams automatically offer named speaker options which is also helpful.

Professor Mike Wald has produced a series of interesting figures as a possible sample of what can happen when students just see an uncorrected transcript, rather than actually listen to the lecture. This is important as not all students can hear the lecture or even attend in person or virtually. It is also often the case that the transcript of a lecture is used long after the event. The group of students he was working with six years ago found that:

  • Word Error Rate counts all errors (Deletions, substitutions and insertions in the classical scientific way used by speech scientists): WER was 22% for a 2715 word transcript.
  • Concept Error Rate counts errors of meaning: This was 15% assuming previous knowledge of content (i.e. ignoring errors that would be obvious if student knew topic content) but 30% assuming no previous knowledge of content.
  • Guessed error rate counts errors AFTER student has tried to correct transcript by them ‘guessing’ if words have errors or not: there was little change in Word Error Rate as words guessed correctly were balanced by words guessed incorrectly (i.e. correct words that student thought were incorrect and changed).
  • Perceived error rate asks student to estimate % errors: Student readers’ perception of Word Error Rate varied from 30% – 50% overall and 11% – 70% for important/key words: readers thought there were more errors than there really were and so found it difficult and frustrating.
  • Key Errors (i.e. errors that change meaning/understanding) were 16% of the total errors and therefore would only require 5 corrections per minute to improve Concept Error Rate from 15% to 0% (speaking rate was 142 wpm and there were approx 31 errors per minute) but it is important to note that this only improves the scientifically calculated Word Error Rate from 22% to 18%.

This is such an important challenge for many universities and colleges at the moment, so to follow on from this blog you may be interested to catch up with the transcript provided from the Disabled Students’ Commission Roundtable debate held on 6th December. One of the summary comments highlighted the importance of getting the technology right as well as manual support, but overriding this all was the importance of listening to the student voice.

Finally, if you ever wonder why speech recognition for automated captioning and transcription still fails to work for us all, have a look at a presentation by Speechmatics about AI bias, inclusion and diversity in speech recognition . An interesting talk about using word error rates, AI and building models using many hours of audio with different phonetic structures to develop language models that are more representative of the voices heard across society.

Guidance for captioning rich media from Advance HE (26/02/2021)

Accessibility Maze Game

maze game screen grabIf you want to learn about digital accessibility in a fun way try the Accessibility Maze Game developed by The Chang School, Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada. It takes a bit of working out and you may not get to all the levels but have a go!

When you have managed to get through the levels there is a useful “What you can do to Remove Barriers on the Web” pdf downloadable ebook telling you all about the issues that you will have explored during the Accessibility Maze Game. These are all related to W3C Web Cotent Accessibility Guidelines but presented in ten steps.

The ebook is available in an accessible format and has been provided under Creative Common licencing (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

SCULPT for Accessibility

SCULPT process thanks to Digital Worcester – Download the PDF infographic

Helen Wilson has very kindly shared her link to SCULPT for Accessibility. Usually we receive strategies that relate to student’s work, but in this case, this is a set of resources that aim “to build awareness for the six basics to remember when creating accessible documents aimed at the wider workforce in a local authority or teachers creating learning resources.”

It seemed at this time whilst everything was going online due to COVID-19 this was the moment to headline the need to make sure all our work is based on the principles of accessibility, usability and inclusion. JISC has provided a new set of guidelines relating to public service body regulations and providing online learning materials. Abilitynet are also offering useful links with more advice for those in Further and Higher Education

Otter Voice Notes and Transcription

Otter creates voice notes that combine audio, transcription and speaker identification for free on a desktop/laptop computer when online and with mobile and tablet apps. 

Otter is a real time speech recognition service, that can recognise different speakers in recorded sessions, allow you to download the output in text and audio as well as SRT.  It is really quite accurate even when using a desktop microphone with clear English speakers in a small room.  We have found it useful for note taking and transcribing interviews but have not tested it in a lecture theatre.  The free online version of Otter offers 600 minutes of transcription per month with unlimited cloud storage and synchronisation across devices.  Visit the App Store or Google Play for more features and reviews.

 The Premium version provides more features, such as names of speakers when they register and are recognised by recording a little bit of speech and 6,000 minutes of transcription per month.  PC Mag provided a review in June 2018 and mentioned that with the free plan, users get 600 minutes of transcriptions per month.

ECS Accessibility Team, University of Southampton. 

Braci PRO provides visual and vibrating alerts for sounds in the environment

This is an app that works on the iPhone or Android and could be a life saver or just a better reminder than the alarms you set up.  If you have a hearing impairment or need an alert this app will turn your smart phone into a device that provides visual signals, vibration and/or flashing light when well known sounds are heard via the microphone or an alarm, door bell or other sounds around the house and local surroundings.  It can help when on field trips or in a lab / lecture theatre etc when the fire alarm goes off.

According to Braci Smartear it is a ‘sound recognition platform’ with a “Wide range of detectable sounds – The application can pick up and notify you to many different types of sounds which revolve around your safety, security and comfort. These sounds can be found as:
a- Pre-installed within the application (Smoke alarms, and Carbon monoxide alarms)
b- Customizable to your specific sounds ( Doorbells, alarms, intercoms, and much more)
c- Compatible alert products such as Bellman and Geemarc products.”

A YouTube video about how to use Braci Pro

This comes thanks to David Banes

Google Drive for online storage and collaboration

google drive

Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.

Google Drive is able to create files, even from your desktop, and pick the permissions of who is allowed to edit it. More than one person can work on the file at the same time and the service has a chat panel for the people working in it, so that they can communicate. Everyone working on the file is given a colour and it shows who is typing when multiple people are working. Google Drive can also use documents from other applications to help create a project such as Google docs and Google sheets.

Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script

Tom, Mathematics