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Wordsmithing with AI: Revolutionizing Transcription and Captioning

John BaileyBy: John Bailey


A little under a century ago, we began captioning films thanks to Emerson Romero, a deaf actor who would place captions between the frames. While that approach didn't become a standard practice at the time, it's safe to say that the evolution of silent films to what then became known as "talkies," made captioning more commonplace, as movie makers wanted to encourage as many people as possible to consume their content.

A little over a decade ago, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sued streaming conglomerate Netflix for not having all of their content captioned. The NAD argued that this was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While Netflix argued that the ADA didn’t apply to their services, as it was not a physical place of public accommodation, the streaming giant’s claim was rejected. This led to a ruling that forced Netflix to pay a grand total of $755,000 in legal fees and, in two years time, all of their content from then onward was 100% captioned.

Looking at the here and now, we've got content constantly being generated. Each year, more and more TV shows are being greenlit and films are being developed for theatrical or online distribution. This is a very high volume for transcriptionists to handle. Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its ability to caption digital content in real-time. Could this be the tool we've been waiting for?

Transforming Speech to Text

It’s important to note that AI, more specifically Natural Language Processing (NLP), has been a long time coming and can be seen in our everyday lives with innovations like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa. However, like other things we create, they can be used in different ways. This is no different, with AI using algorithms to analyze the audio or video content, recognizing speech patterns, and converting spoken words into written text. Now, this isn't a magic solution as the success and accuracy of AI automatically transcribing, and captioning depends on the quality of the audio/video content.

Since the technology is not 100% accurate, it is meant to be used as an aid to make a transcriptionist's job far more efficient. By using this technology, the studio/company will save lots of time and money to achieve the same level of quality work. However, is media and entertainment the only industry where this technology is useful? As it turns out, not at all. Below is a breakdown:

Traditional transcribing and captioning involve human beings listening to audio or watching video recordings to manually transcribe the spoken words and other events into a text format. This can be an incredibly time-consuming job that may require multiple run-throughs, ultimately being quite costly. When a transcriptionist uses AI as a tool, the job can be done much faster and more efficiently.

Aside from cost and time savings, there are several other benefits to using this technology. For one, productivity and efficiency would increase. Secondly, companies will see improvements in accuracy and consistency, as AI can be trained to learn specific languages. This can be possible through collaboration with seasoned software developers to implement the technology.

Lastly, with laws and standards put forth by the ADA, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), and the FCC serving as the guideline for accessibility, studios and creators should use these tools at their disposal to meet the requirements needed to make their content available.

The Future of Accessibility

There's indisputable importance to giving people the option to have captions within the content we develop, regardless of whether it's for entertainment, education, or anything in-between. Aside from the actual laws that require this of companies within the U.S., it's also a good thing to do for a great number of people.

Now, while it is seemingly complicated to apply Natural Language Processing (NLP) capable AI, the work can be done by expert software developers. This implementation will ensure regulatory compliance and save any studio a significant amount of money in the long term. Additionally, with the time saved on a single project, the proficiency gained can open the door to higher content output.

In the end, the fundamental option for how we consume the content we love to view or need to learn from can be optimized to meet the supply we keep producing. Providing more people with the ability to consume it, will also provide a greater chance at revenue gains and cost savings.


Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.

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