January 9, 2018. Last month, members of CHHA PEI were invited by the PEI Human Rights Commission to attend the 2017 Human Rights Day event to commemorate Mi’kmaq at 12,000+ and Canada at 150. In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day, to bring attention to “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”
So why would CHHA PEI receive an invitation? When we learned it was because the PEI Human Rights Commission planned to organize real time captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing to make the event accessible to more people, we were delighted. Annie Lee MacDonald, Brenda Porter, and John Hatton, and Daria Valkenburg attended this event, and had a chance to meet old friends and meet new ones.
Left to right: PEI Human Rights Commission Education Project Officer Thomas Hilton, PEI Human Rights Commission Chair John Rogers, CHHA PEI Public Relations and Advocacy Officer Daria Valkenburg, PEI Human Rights Commission Executive Director Brenda Picard, CHHA PEI President Annie Lee MacDonald. (Photo taken by Carolyn Francis)
The event showcased students from various schools who provided presentations, videos, and art about Mi’kmaq culture and the historical relationship between Mi’kmaq and non-Mi’kmaq people on PEI. Presentations were in both French and English.
Among the guests were not only families of the students, but also PEI MLAs.
Annie Lee and Daria with Green Party Leader and MLA for District 17: Kellys Cross – Cumberland Peter Bevan-Baker. (Photo taken by David Daughton)
The PEI Human Rights Commission did indeed organize real time captioning, a wonderful gesture that was much appreciated. So how did they do? One of things anyone learns with real time captioning is that it’s not as easy as it looks. It requires a lot of preparation and good logistics. Therefore, it was no surprise that the event was a learning experience.
First, the important thing we noticed is that many people, who weren’t necessarily hard of hearing, looked at the real time captioning screen for clarity. People are visual and many times it’s easier to follow what someone is saying by reading along.
So, what would have improved the experience? Here are a few tips:
- The screen displaying the real time captioning needs to be placed high enough for people to see it. At the event we attended, the screen was too low to see clearly. Children were placed right under the screen, and as their teachers moved the children to go on and off the stage, the screen was blocked.
- The captioned screen and any video screens need to be close together. If you have a video screen on one side of the room, and a real time captioning screen on the other side of the room, it is difficult to keep swivelling your head back and forth to see what is going on.
- Send the captioner spelling of names and key information ahead of time. The captioner can only provide captioning for what he or she hears, unless key information is provided ahead of time. It is helpful to provide an agenda, copies of speeches, and spelling of names and places mentioned, to the captioner before an event. Several people were introduced during the event we attended, but we could not hear the names properly, and neither could the captioner.
- If you are using remote real time captioning, recognize that the captioner can’t SEE what is going on, and can only rely on what is being heard. The master of ceremonies can help by providing transitions to speakers and agenda items.
- Make sure your speakers use microphones. When you have a number of speakers, of different heights, it is important to have someone on hand to adjust the microphones so that the speakers can be heard. Do not rely on speakers, especially children, to know what they have to do. The captioner can only record what he or she hears.
- Ensure all languages used are included in real time captioning. When an event is in multiple languages, it’s important to provide the captioner with text of all languages. In the event we attended, anything spoken in French was not recorded onscreen by the real time captioner. It’s important to remember that it’s not only English speaking people who are hard of hearing! One of the advantages of real time captioning is that it can be done in any language.
- Consider simultaneous translation if an event is in two languages. Many events are held in two or more language, in which case you may want to use two captioners and provide simultaneous translation. Alternatively, you could have two screens, with translations that can be uploaded by the captioner.
These are a few tips to help improve future experiences using real time captioning. If you attend an event with real time captioning, please make sure you let the organizers know that you appreciate the effort being made. We applaud the PEI Human Rights Commission for their effort to include us and hope these tips will help in planning future events.
Next Chapter meeting: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at North Tryon Presbyterian Church
Do you have a story or tip about improving real time captioning experiences? Comments can be made on this blog, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Daria Valkenburg