Friday, 21 July 2017

Turning voice into text

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How one business is helping the hard-of-hearing and others. Elizabeth Archer says it’s “totally gratifying” to help the hard-of-hearing and others with her business that captures voice and translates it into text. 

The Portland-based company provides Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), also known as live-event captioning, as an option for people with hearing challenges.

“People who use my services are typically deaf and hard of hearing who prefer to voice for themselves and don’t use sign language or interpreters,” says Elizabeth Archer, owner of the company. “My clients are also typically late-deafened adults who grew up in the hearing world and prefer CART as opposed to having to learn sign language in their later years. I’ve also provided CART for people with autism, traumatic brain injury and ESL students.”

The benefits, Archer says, “are pretty straight forward – communication access.” “Services are used in classrooms, at medical appointments, in courtrooms and other legal settings, conferences, legislative hearings and business meetings,” she says.

CART is a means of transcribing the spoken word into readable English text using a stenograph machine, computer and real-time software. Text appears on a computer monitor or other display and serves as an important communication tool for those using the service. CART provides a verbatim translation of all spoken words, on a one-to-one basis, to multiple users, or projected on a large screen for an audience. A simulation on the company’s website demonstrates the service.

Archer began CART service, which is provided online, onsite and on-demand, in 1995 and expanded to a national level in 2005 by using the internet.

“Remote CART is when I provide services off-site,” Archer says. “For this to work, the person using CART needs a computer, and I need some kind of audio. This can be done via the internet using Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts and other web-based platforms as well as conference and speaker phones. I send the link to the client, we connect with audio, and I write down whatever is being said in the venue.”

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