You are here: joeclark.orgMedia accessCaptioning
Caption Quality Initiative transcripts and documentation → Caption Quality Initiative transcript

Posted 2003.11.05

Caption Quality Initiative transcript

This transcript of the first Caption Quality Initiative conference held September 14, 2002 was adapted from real-time captions created at the conference.

MS. McCANN: Good morning. My timekeeper said if I didn’t start on time, I was going to be in trouble right out of the box. So here we are. My name is Jo ann McCann and on behalf of the Department of Education I want to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to come and join in this exciting event today. It’s very, very exciting, and I’m sure you all can feel the energy in this room. For some of you who don’t know something about my history and how I got involved with captioning, my parents are deaf, so I grew up as a CODA in the Baltimore area.

And I started working in the field of captioning with Mac Norwood back in 1986. I started – one of my programs was the early design manufacture and distribution of the Line 21 decoder. And some of the deaf consumers may remember the $20 rebate coupons that you had I was involved in that project. I’ve worked with designing priorities for children’s programming, daytime programming, syndicated programming, anything from 1986 on, that has to do with captioning. I am the project officer for captioning. As a result, of the very exciting things that came about long after 9-11, when the group of captioning agencies decided to get together and pilot this meeting.

It all came together and thank you all for your hard work, in providing captioning as well as taking time for today. My co-chair is Jeff Hutchins. Jeff has been involved with captioning since long before I was. And very exciting times. And Jeff said I have about a minute and a half and I’ve had it. There you go. Jeff? We’re going to stay on time, on schedule today. Captioners are always on time. The Department of Education can’t figure that one out.

MR. HUTCHINS: Well, good morning. I can’t believe today is here and I’m here and all those faces I’ve been looking forward to seeing and we’re going to see if we can make this work, Jack. This is NCI technology we’re testing.

MR. GATES: Oh, give me a break.

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s planned.

MR. GATES: That’s Jeff Hutchins’ technology.

MR. HUTCHINS: The first thing I have to do is take your picture. No flash? Oh, well. Another piece of technology – I think, was this from you, Jack?


MR. HUTCHINS: I wanted to tell you that, you know, today really is sort of the first day of the end of summer for me. And I wanted to tell you, Jack’s been dying to find out why I have this slide here. Jack, I’m telling you. My summer was spent doing two things. First of all, planning this event and looking forward to meeting all of you. The other part of it was my older daughter got married in the beginning of the summer and a lot of people have asked me did I bring pictures of her. So I did. I brought a picture of her and her new husband. They live in France. Thank you. So my summer began with my daughter getting married and it ended with her actually having her first child. So I’m a grandfather. Now do you understand what that was?

MR. GATES: Yes, thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: Get that off the screen. I’m going to ask you, Jack, to –

MR. GATES: Why don’t I advance it?

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re going to get there. I am so delighted to welcome you all here today to this amazing, historic, and, some would say, overdue conference. Thank you for being here. We have much work to do today and the task we set for ourselves may not be done when today is done. How far we get today is up to each of you. We need your intelligence. We need your attention. And we need you to respect the strict time limits we will impose on those who speak. So that we can hear from everyone and I do mean everyone.

I really hope that all of you have come here, ready to participate and share your ideas. Most of all, we need you to understand and support the mission of this conference. For the viewer who cannot hear, the extent to which they must trust the accuracy of the captions is overwhelming. If the wrong word is given, or if words are misspelled or missing, the viewer will probably be less informed than we intend. Or, be less scared by the scary movie, or laugh less at the comedy. Or weep less at the tragedy.

Captions, unlike words in a book or a newspaper, are not permanent. Typographical errors in print media may cause momentary confusion but the reader can pause and piece together the correct information by reviewing the previous text. When the caption reader becomes confused by a mistake, they do not have the luxury of pausing and looking back over previous words to deduce what was actually meant. They have only one chance to receive the correct word and comprehend it. Part of the art of captioning is the presentation, the manner, placement and timing of the captions. Manner, as I use that word, refers to several different parameters of a caption. It refers, first to the style, which could be pop-on or roll-up. The justification of the words. Left, center, etc. Of and the shape and row division of the captions.

The other major factor that affects the quality the consumer receives is the delivery. And, we can go ahead – these are the three most important factors, here. In readability. The manner, the timing, the placement on the screen. But that’s not the only thing that affects what you consumers might receive. There may be failures of technology. Fouling the path from program production to reception on the consumer’s TV. When this happens, errors in the caption display may be introduced in either of several points. Along the distribution path. First, during encoding, at the time the caption data is inserted into the video signal. Or during playback from a captioned videotape. During uplink to a satellite, during the reception via satellite dish in the local station or in the consumer’s home, and during the input to the consumer’s TV set.

Our conference today is not concerned with those failures of technology which we as service providers and consumers cannot control. As much as we might wish to do so. In this one day, today, hopefully the first of many, we will do well if we can set our sights primarily on those quality issues that we can control. Service providers must strive to provide the complete text in which every word is the correct word. Correctly spelled, appearing at the right time. With enough time to be read, and with a clear understanding of who said the word.

Of course, the devil is in the details. We may today in this room agree on the goals of captioning without necessarily agreeing, at least not yet, on how to achieve those goals. Should there be standards we agree to follow? Do we even need standards? If so, what standards? Set by whom? Monitored by whom? With what, if any, penalties for noncompliance? Do we even know yet the scope of what we are up against? What do we mean when we talk about caption quality? And why is this the Caption Quality Initiative? I believe we will answer those questions today and I believe when we talk about caption quality, we’re talking about those factors that affect the ability of the non-hearing viewer to get the same information and the same viewing experience as the hearing viewer.

Those factors are the stylistic goals set by the captioner – stylistic goals, the accuracy and the faithful delivery of those same captions to the consumer’s TV set. The questions we face today are these. Which of those factors are in need of our attention? Which are within our control? And what, if anything, should we do to exercise that control? In other words, what does it take for a program to call itself captioned? Some days, our job as service providers does not feel important. Not so important. We are not pulling people out of burning buildings. We are not curing disease. We are not building homes to shelter people or growing food to nurture their bodies. Or giving them guidance to nurture their souls.

Or are we? When the industry captioned 100 consecutive hours of news coverage of 9-11, 2001, we were bringing deaf people into the fullness of how our world is changing. When we caption a children’s cartoon show, we are helping a deaf child acquire the language skills they will need to survive and to thrive when they are no longer children. This year’s graduates of Gallaudet University and NTID and other colleges that serve deaf students are among the first deaf people who have never known a world without captions. Without access to all the good and the bad that mass communications has to offer. Deaf people today are entering careers that not very long ago were thought to be off-limits to them and captioning has played a significant part in that success.

We don’t pull people out of burning buildings, we pull them out of ignorance and limited opportunity. We don’t cure disease, we cure illiteracies, we don’t build – illiteracy. We don’t build homes. We nurture minds. What we do is important. When we do it badly, we say to the world that captioning is not important. That the people who rely on captions are not deserving of full understanding, that almost is good enough. That better than nothing, is good enough.

And I would maintain to you that better than nothing is a poor standard to set for our industry. The example that I gave in the letter you have in your folder in front of you is a real caption that I saw one week ago on a commercial. The caption should have read “one call can save you more on insurance.” But instead it read “one call can save you moron insurance.” I want to sign up for that moron insurance. God save us from the morons. Most of us here today are – or many of us know exactly what caused that error to appear. It was not a bad captioning job. It was the result of a so-called paired error in with which letters are lost because of bad TV reception or a problem at the TV transmitter. We know that. But the consumers sitting at home do not know. That and they should not have to know what made that error appear on their screen. It’s up to all of us in this room today to do all we can to make sure such stupid words do not appear on TV sets across America.

There’s nothing the consumer can do to prevent that. We must act in our companies and in our consumer organizations, in concert with the broadcasters and TV manufacturers, so that the captions we work so hard to create actually do the job that we set out to do, which is to make video programming fully understandable. To people who cannot hear these programs. We are entrusted with this responsibility. We must not fail. Had that is your mission – that is your mission for today.

Now, I have to move ahead with the program and to do that, I first have to thank and introduce a few people. Our captioners today are provided by the generosity of Vitac and NCI. And Vitac has paid for my time and expenses to organize this conference and be here. I thank them for that. But I am not here today to represent Vitac. I’m here today as your facilitator and be as impartial as I can be in moderating today’s conference. NCI’s engineers helped to set up the equipment you see here today. Those contributions are the full extent of corporate involvement in this conference. Vitac has allowed me to work completely independent of their control. They have had no more input to the agenda of this conference or its rules than anyone else in this room has had. I’m not here as their representative or the representative of any other company. I will do my best to be fair and impartial and I tell you all this because I do want to disclose to you all the facts of my involvement.

Our sign language interpreters are paid by the fees that you paid to be here. There are no advertisements of any kind in the folders that you received. No equipment vendors are represented here. In other words, this is your conference. You set the rules of who could attend and who can vote and how long each person may talk. You voted to allow an observer from the FCC to be here with us today. And I would now like to introduce her. Her name is Traci Randolph. She is with the FCC’s disability rights office. And she’s going to speak with you now. Traci?

PARTICIPANT: Great job, Jeff.

PARTICIPANT: Good morning. I don’t have anything prepared so it’s kind of a hard act to follow. I understand some people are having a hard time seeing Felicia because she’s not as tall as Mark. I think they’re working on that. My name is traci Randolph, as Jeff said. For five months I’ve been in the disability rights office in the FCC, I know many of you in my former life as her, I am a full-time sign language interpreter, I’ve been in the Washington, DC area interpreting all kinds of issues including captioning and telecommunications issues for the last 11 ½ some odd years. I’m now in the FCC functioning as an interpreter but I have other hats, too. One of my hats in the disability rights office is to work on captioning issues.

There are no issues right now – captioning issues right now being worked on, the FCC, no open proceeding. That does not mean the issue is not still on the plate and we’re not concerned about quality, accuracy and any other issue on captioning. Specifically me. It’s something very close and near and dear to my heart due to my ties in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. You hear my voice wavering. I’m used to her role. It’s a little bit of a role shift for me. You are allowing someone from the FCC to come, we appreciate that. We look forward to – I look forward to listening to everything you have to say. Taking notes and taking it back to the powers that be at the FCC as I said, there is no open proceeding right now so everything is open. For discussion.

And if there’s anything in particular that you’re looking – that you’re wanting us to look at, please file a petition for rulemaking with us because as many of you know, that’s the quickest way to get things started with the FCC, it is the government so regardless to how much we as individuals care about this, it’s the government. So if you can help us get something started that, would be appreciated as well. I will do my best to answer your questions. If I don’t know, I will be honest to tell you I don’t know. But I will get back to you with the information you’re looking for. I guess that’s it.


MR. HUTCHINS: This has never happened in a place where I’m invited to speak. We’re early. Anybody who knows me knows that when you put a microphone in front of me, it’s a dangerous place to be.

PARTICIPANT: It won’t last long.

MR. HUTCHINS: It won’t last long. One of the things that we did in planning this conference and one of the things we did right was to invite two court reporters to help provide the real-time services. And the reason I say that we did that right is because, as always happens, one of the computers failed this morning. So, right now, you’re enjoying the captioning of Lisa Greenberg and we hope a little bit later today we’re going to have Kathy DiLorenzo, also providing a break for Lisa. But, this just, I think Joe said just before we started, this plays perfectly into your conversation today – our conversation today, the importance of planning ahead and redundancy, because if we had gone with just one court reporter today, we would probably not have any captioning for you. And that would be really pretty embarrassing at a captioning quality conference. I would like to actually stay ahead of the schedule here a little bit.

Now, the next thing we’re going to do is invite the – we have two panelists for you today. Now, the purpose of these panels is not to elevate any among you to a different status. What happened is that this conference, the idea of this conference was born in a small meeting in February. And Jo Ann talked about that a little bit. The idea was that we would have some discussion among service providers and consumers about what constitutes quality. A couple of meetings happened and of course, I was not at them which is why I am the co-chair today because when you’re not at a meeting, you get volunteered and that’s what happened. I received a phone call that said, guess what, you’re chairing a conference. And I’m actually delighted that that phone call took place, but what happened was that there were some – several hours of discussions that took place even before the conference was planned. I think it’s very important that we not waste those hours, that the people who participated in those hours fill you in on what we already know about captioning quality. Because we could spend a lot of time here revisiting and hearing from consumers about things that we already understand, part of the issue. Our part of the issue.

When I say “part of the issue” that assumes something that may not be true. We have no standards today that measure caption quality. We cannot sit here today and say that captioning today is worse or better than it was before, because we never measured the quality of the captions in the 30 years that captioning has been on the air. So it’s awfully hard to say something is worse or better or the same as it used to be. All we can measure are our feelings. Some people have expressed a fear that captioning quality is not today what it once was. That’s not a fact, that’s an opinion. It’s an opinion that may be shared by many, but not everyone in this room. We need to explore that. Is there an issue? Is there a problem of quality in captioning? If there is a problem, what is the nature of that problem, how do we measure it? If we measure it, and we find that there is a problem, how do we solve the problem if we choose to? All of this begins with an assessment of where we are.

It doesn’t mean we want to hear that last week on NBC, five minutes of captioning were missing. The problems, if we face them, are bigger than any one show. They affect us as an industry. And so, what we want to do is to hear from the people that have already spent time discussing this. We are going to have two panelists today. The first panel will address the issue of quality in live captioning. And the panel will be led by Mark Golden of the National Court Reporters Association. Joining Mark will be Joe Karlovits of Vitac and Jack Gates of NCI. Somebody asked yesterday, is Bill Gates here? No. It’s his brother, Jack. We will then following – they will have approximately a 20-minute presentation that the three of them will make at the table here, and then we will open the floor for your questions. And we’re going to – I will come back up and moderate the Q&A portion. I would ask that deaf people that come forward and sign –

PARTICIPANT: You need to stop saying deaf, deaf, and leaving out 90% of the population.

MR. HUTCHINS: You’re correct. You’re absolutely right. I stand corrected.

PARTICIPANT: You might have to sit corrected if you keep doing it.

MR. HUTCHINS: OK. I will – I’ll try to – do better. Those who use sign language to communicate. I would ask to step back from the microphone so that the interpreters can reverse-interpret what they are signing so everyone can see them. Those who will speak will have an open microphone. Please use that microphone in the center and face the audience and speak clearly into the microphone. And, now, without further ado, I will ask Mark and his panelists to begin.

MR. GOLDEN: We’ll see if I am any less technology-challenged than Jeff was. Good morning, it is certainly my pleasure to be here. As mentioned, I’m Mark Golden, I’m executive director of the National Court Reporters Association. I am pleased to see a number of familiar faces for a number of people, what the heck, somebody who runs an organization of court reporters, has to do with captioning, may not be obvious but hopefully we will get to that. In addressing live real-time captioning quality, we’re presented with a kind of unique problem. And Jeff touched on this briefly.

In a typical provider-consumer environment, the consumer and purchaser has a direct relationship with the entity they’re going to to get their services. That offers a number of advantages. You have, you can communicate directly what your needs are.


MR. GOLDEN: This is more than a little intimidating. OK. In your typical consumer environment, you as a consumer with a particular need communicate directly with the provider, the provider has direct access to your concerns and to understand your needs. And, very significantly, if the provider fails to satisfy your needs, you have the power to withhold future purchases. In the captioning arena, there we go, it’s a little bit different. The consumer and the person who actually controls the purchasing decision are separate entities.

This is not to try and shift blame. It’s simply to recognize a dynamic which service providers have to cope with and accommodate and – and which creates, or can create some frustrations for you as consumers. It makes it more difficult for service providers without going to rather unusual ends, like arranging meetings like this and having consumer advisory panels, it makes it more difficult for them to communicate and interact with consumers and it makes it more difficult for you as consumers to get to the person who controls the purchasing decision to exercise changes in quality. That’s the environment within which we deal.

There are also some other factors which affect, complicate the quality question. The first is that the captioning industry itself is far from homogeneous. On the panel today, you have two captioning companies, they happen to be among the largest. I don’t think either Jack or Joe would present themselves, though, as typical, or certainly they do not represent the entire range of the captioning profession. There are several dozen companies across the country providing services, about 16 if I counted correctly present in this room. They range in size from two or three people to employing 50 to 60 captioners. So there is no typical company. It’s not like the automotive industry where there’s fairly standardized or typical profile of the company. They’re very different.

NCRA, National Court Reporters Association, represents our membership consists of the individual captioning providers. But there is not any organization in which the captioning companies themselves are members. They may have some memberships in common in – and some broadcasting associations, for example, but there is no organized place for captioning companies to come together as an industry to work. Our issues are further complicated by the fact that the actual purchasers of captioning services, the programmers and networks that control the decision or how captioning are provided and by whom, are also very varied in their sophistication and understanding of the captioning process.

It is very difficult for us, there’s no standard office within a programming company that’s involved in this. Sometimes you have to push and call and ask and get a lot of false starts before you get to the right person. Within a particular network or programming provider, to simply find who knows and is in control of the captioning decisions. And often, unfortunately, it’s improving and there are certainly exceptions, but often, they have a very, very low level of understanding of both the importance of captioning to this community, and how important and how large an impact their decisions can have on the quality of the captions you receive or don’t. Next slide for me. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, things have gotten better in the last several years, or over the last year, there have been a number of efforts by the captioning companies to figure out ways to reach and work together with each other. And to reach out to consumers. Consumer advisory panels, which this audience represents, are a very good and one of the better examples, but there are certainly other areas where we try to work with each other as a profession and try to work with you as the consumers of the service provided. Talk about these issues. And as Jo Ann and Jeff both touched on, September 11, 2001, served as a catalyst and really demonstrated, I think to the profession’s credit, how well they could work together under extraordinary circumstances, and how quickly they pulled together under those unreal circumstances. And performed very well.

And there has been a residual effect in terms of saying, we worked well under crisis, what can we do to ensure we work well going forward? I am going to address two broad issues affecting captioning quality and then turn it over to Joe and Jack to run through some of the other issues. But really, and this is my – the thing that keeps me awake at night, the one that I lie awake staring at the ceiling over, and it is a real problem and it has real impact on the quality of captioning you receive, and that is, simply, the shortage of captioners. The majority of today’s captioners are retrained court reporters. Retraining court reporters is not going to produce a sufficient volume of qualified providers to be employed by the companies in this room to provide the services you want and deserve.

So we have had to focus and we have invested an incredible amount of time, energy, and money at the National Court Reporters Association in trying to reinvent, resign and reinvigorate the education system that produces captioners, so that we will go beyond retraining court reporters to attracting new entries into the profession to train them specifically to be captioning as well as cart providers. That includes employing a full-time educational consultant who is traveling around the country, working with schools that teach court reporting, to help them develop captioning education programs. It includes lobbying effort over the last two years which has so far been successful in getting $6.25 million to the U.S. Congress for court reporting schools. Money that is now in those schools’ hands and is now being invested in real-time captioning training programs. And we are pressing for additional and sustained funding so we can complete that job.

Assuming we even – we are successful in – and continue to recruit students and train good captioners and cart providers, there are also – there is also, excuse me, the issue of the qualifications of the provider. It is a – an extremely challenging art that the ladies over here are performing to get my words turned into text that you can read instantaneously. And there are no firm standards for those skills. Now, national court reporting association or – for a lot of years, since 1935, has been certifying court reporters and we do have a certification. It is the CRR, that is, the certified real-time writers, a certification test which tests their ability to write at 180-220 words per minute at 96% accuracy. That is a test purely of writing skill. Of getting the fingers to turn the words into text.

What is missing, but is currently under development, is a certification, specifically for the captioning and cart environment, that will test not only their skill at perform the – performing the translation function, but the mastery of the content they need to perform their jobs effectively. That is under development now and God willing, if the creek doesn’t rise by november of 2003, we will be offering the first test, so that captioning companies, when making employment decisions, and captioning consumers, will have an additional piece of information to help them assess the qualification of the providers. Let me now shift to Joe. And he will discuss some of the issues of captioning quality from the company perspective.

MR. KARLOVITS: Thanks, Mark. Great job as usual. I am going to be covering some of the issues that deal with delivery. The delivery of real-time captions. And, of course, I’m looking at them from the perspective of how Vitac does it, how we used to do it and how we do it now. And a lot of the other companies, I know that Jack and at least the Caption Center and other companies do it the same way or used to. So when I talk about a lot of these things they are, from my knowledge of how we do it at Vitac.

The key ingredients to closed captioning quality are, number one, as with any business, the competency of the staff of the people who work for the company. The experience of the company. Because if you did it before, assuming you take on a new project, you know what you’re doing, and you’ll do it right the second time. The training programs. Over the years at Vitac, we’ve had in-depth training programs, and those programs have evolved as time has gone on, from the time we started our company until today. As we’re trying to evolve as the industry evolves into a new direction. The training programs involve a cost. They’re not free. And depending on the width and depth of the program, they can are very expensive. Equipment and systems. Of course, that goes with any business. You have to have the right equipment. You have to have the right systems to generate quality captions.

And in the early days, I remember testing out many new software programs for closed captioning and a lot of those systems back in the early days really did not deliver what you get today. Personnel redundancy and system redundancy would creep. We got the best example of that this morning when we had the failure of one of the PCs that we weren’t able to generate captions on to the screen. But because Jeff and his – in his infinite wisdom in following the practices that we tried to do over the years, instead of having one captioner, Jeff decided to have two in the event of such problem, plus to give the captioners a break.

Telecommunications. Redundancy in telecommunications is important in the early days of Vitac, we – I think one thing that all of the captioning companies will agree on this is one of our major problems, because we really don’t have any control over the telephone signals. We deliver or captions over telephone lines. Normal voice telephone lines. And there are failure points at either end. And there isn’t a day that goes by that a modem does not drop and we lose data. That’s not because of the incompetency of the captioning companies, it’s just something that we have not been able to correct. And hopefully some day we’ll be able to do it.

At Vitac, what we’ve done is we’ve put in two separate telephone systems, so if AT&T fails, we jump over to Sprint. But on either end of the long distance telephone system, we have local companies. And you can have failure points there. And customer support. How do you support the clients, the buyers of captioning? And, how do you support the consumers of captioning? How do we answer the problems of the consumers? And I think that’s important in doing a quality job. We certainly have a lot of new challenges. All the companies have a lot of new challenges, and by far, one of the greatest challenges we have are downward prices. There are a lot of reasons for that, and of course, how many companies are here?


PARTICIPANT: And more were invited that could not attend. So competition has lowered the cost of captioning. Which is good. But, caption quality, to some of the buyers of closed captioning, is secondary to what they’ll pay for. So, everybody wants to have the best captioning for their network or for their program, but they’re not necessarily willing to pay for it. They’re willing to take a shortcut if the shortcut’s available. And of course, we’re in a situation right now where the economy has been down. That has definitely affected all the national networks. Advertising has been down. So it has a great effect on the quality of captioning.

We’ve have a dramatic increase in captioned programs, which is great. I remember back in the 1980’s, when there were three or four hours of captioning every day, on a few networks. And today, at least as far as the FCC standards are concerned, we’re at 50% of everything, we hope. And of course, there are networks that cover much more than 50%. The national networks cover virtually around the clock, except for maybe a few hours. And Mark mentioned this. This is a tremendous challenge for all the captioning companies. And we’re all affected by it and so are the consumers. Is the shortage of qualified real-time captioners. How times have changed and certainly for all of us as we get older, times change and we change.

And in the – in the technical specifications for captions, those are changing, but in the 1990’s, the national news, I’m talking about how we do captioning, the 1990’s, national news programs are all captioned in-house, out of control rooms that had redundant systems. There were captioning teams that recovered and edited news scripts and these were combined with the real-time as the program aired in the overall quality of the captioning was very high in the 99% range. This is kind of a example of a control room at Vitac where you see the real-time captioner on the left and the person on the right is a caption coordinator. Her job is to output scripts if we have them and also to correct errors as they occur. So that if, God forbid, an error occurs in an important name, they’re able to correct that so that the next time it comes up, it comes up correctly.

Every program had a quality control review by a real-time supervisor. Back in the 1990’s, Vitac had three real-time supervisors plus senior-level captioners who reviewed all programs and worked with every one of the captioners to improve their accuracy. Because that was our goal. Our goal was – my goal had always been as a captioner, to be able to some day write a program with no mistakes. And that is still a goal that all the captioners that I know are still striving to achieve. Every captioner went through a three- to six-month training program and they did not go on the air unless they were qualified to do a minimum of 98% accuracy. In the 2000s, captioning prices have come down and I talked about that in the beginning. From 100% to 500%. That’s coming down. But we have more captioned programs. That’s going up. Customers negotiate for the lowest price. And some customers treat quality as second.

At Vitac, 30% of our captioning now is done in-house where back in the 1990’s, 100% of the captioning was done in-house in a controlled environment. And 70% of the captioning is done remotely. That would vary between all the companies in this room. Downward pricing has forced cutbacks on the number of supervisors that we have and support personnel. Depending on the program and what the client is willing to pay. You don’t have that second person in the room entering on-line corrections as an example, or downloading scripts so the overall quality of the program is enhanced. And the quality control reviews are less frequent. We can’t look at every show, every day, for every caption.

In the 2000s, most real-time training is done remotely. And that’s not all bad, because we’ve been able to use technology to be able to reach more people. real-time captioners are less mobile and prefer working out of their homes, and really, how can you blame that? I mean, we are a telecommuting society today. In many industries, their professionals are working through telecommunicating. Court reporting schools are closing their doors in record numbers. This is a major, major concern, and I have a graph to show you here. In the 1990’s, we had 500 court reporting programs. Today, we have roughly 170 court reporting programs. And projections going forward is that that number is going to continue to decrease. And that is a major, major problem. The fact of the matter is, we are at crossroads, in many areas.

Cutting prices has been – cutting prices offset by expense reductions and less attention to detail does affect quality. And every captioning – can every captioning company do a better job than they do today? I guarantee it. But there’s a cost to doing that and you have to weigh that against what a buyer is willing to pay and what a consumer is willing to accept. And it really comes back to the consumers. What you are willing to accept. And, in my view, the – to serve the needs of the consumer, we need guidelines. That must be established and enforced. And Jeff kind of talked about that. And there are all types of issues around that. And how we do it, who does it, when we do it, but, I believe that it can be achieved. It’s amazing that we were able to achieve getting all these people into this room. And I think that’s a compliment, Jeff, for being able to coordinate the meeting as he’s done. I’m going to turn it over to Jack Gates of NCI.

MR. GATES: You told me it was NCI technology. What I’d like to talk about is the technical issues that impact things. I speak frequently about real-time captioning as being magic. Because that’s the only way you can describe what actually happens. So, what I’d like to talk about this morning is the mystery and these are the things that are behind the scenes that are causing something to not work right. See how easy it is, guys?


PARTICIPANT: You need a special training course for that.

MR. GATES: No captions showing up. No captions were there because the show wasn’t captioned, even if the TV guide says it was. Also, something in the equipment path, or the video path is not hooked up. So the captions may be there but they’re not coming out on broadcast. They’re being stripped or the equipment is out. And there’s infrequently, but there’s possibilities of captioner error. Somebody didn’t remember that they were supposed to do a show, unfortunately, that happens sometimes. Looking at captions being intermittent or start late or end early before the show. Some of the things with that, as Joe mentioned, we are delivering the captions by a – via telephone lines. The U.S. has the most advanced, excellent telecommunication network, I think, in the world. At least we did. However, the telephone lines have noise on them, they drop the lines, there are periodic failures. And part of the problem is that the phone lines are dirty.

Equipment failure, either at the broadcast end or at the captioner’s end. Compatibility, the stuff they’re using here to create the real-time and the encoder at the broadcast facility, sometimes those just don’t talk to each other very well. The captioner coming in and testing for another show and not enabling, not releasing the captioning, the encoder, so that – it rocks the captions that are running. The broadcaster making a change. The broadcaster does periodically move things out of one control room into another and they forget to let the caption path follow that. And lastly, the captioner drops off to allow the next captioner in, if there’s somebody that’s following, or to get to another show. The white boxes, the infamous white boxes, when you see the caption and it’s nothing but a space of white, those are characters that the decoder doesn’t recognize, so it’s putting in a null at that point. That shows up as a white box. And usually, that has to do with poor reception, some noise, or something. Periodically, there’s black boxes, no characters there and that often is at the viewer end because the decoder chip is not – does not support the new advanced character sets. Missing or strange characters.

The gremlins. Noise on the phone line, improperly aligned equipment, some place in the video path, and that can be anywhere from the captioner through the phone lines, through the broadcaster and to your television set. Any place in that path. And it can result in some strange things showing up. It could be wrong letters, symbols, other things, boxes, who knows what will be there. Poor reception can happen. Depending on how the signal goes. It can happen from sunspots in – where you happen to live, particularly if you’re drawing the signal down by air, or electrical storms.

And lastly, there’s an improper configuration. Some place, the broadcasters are trying to pass other information and it happens to hit Line 21 where the captions are. A lot of times that will be the URLs that are running behind or V-chip information. Captions race by sometimes. You are watching the program, everything is fine and then it pauses and all of a sudden it – that’s because there’s a buffer some place that’s filling up. And eventually it lets loose and just sends that stuff lightning speed. And, captions, there’s no caption on the rerun. You’ve seen the program. Maybe you see it again later, particularly like sports where you watch it at 2: 00 in the morning to see – what was it the Patriots? No, maybe I don’t – that, by the way, was in reference to a certain organization that is out of Pittsburgh. But, the captions aren’t there.

Why is that? Well, broadcaster didn’t record a program or did but somehow the recording of the program with the captions didn’t make it. Or, the local broadcaster is stripping. That term, stripping, is often not done intentionally. It’s not that the local broadcaster is trying to get rid of the captions. It’s that they’ve got some equipment in the path. Process amplifier or character generator or something is in the path and it’s just incompatible so it pulls Line 21 out, just doesn’t pass it. Stripping and dropping captions, same thing. Program airs with captions and you see it on another cablecaster network and it’s not there. That can be the encoder. Is disabled. Which means that the program that you’re watching actually has the captions but the encoder is not passing those because it’s expecting local input rather than off of the tape. Or the processor amp, there’sing? There that’s bumping or doing something with the bump – captions. Or not up to standards.

We’re talking about quality. In this case, we’re expecting to see captions. They look like captions but they’re actually not captions. They come from the electronic newsroom type of thing, a Teleprompter. They’re running it in to be captions. And those are really not intended to be captions. They are text, they do represent the words that are being spoken but they don’t have all of the elements that you’d expect. In watching captions. For example, they go to a live segment, and that’s not on the Teleprompter. Or if you have taped reports. One of the folks that I was visiting with last night was talking about just the frustration of, here’s a live news report, up to the minute, and they flash over to that and there’s nothing there. And the captioner doesn’t have access to prep materials in advance. That can also cause the end result to be less.

And this one is something that I’ll tell you, I do have a judgment statement in here. And it is that, we’re watching a program that is typically pop on. Captions bill all together and disappear and rebuild. And that seems to be appropriate for that program but the captions that we’re watching are the roll-up. They’re live captioning so there’s a two-second delay, they build at the bottom and they roll up. Yet, we’ve seen the same type of programming and it has the pop-on. So there’s a sync between the spoken word and the captions. Particularly important for literacy or learning English. Using captions to do that. But the providers, the folks that are saying, I want you to do captioning, there’s a growing trend to say, let’s do this using the live method rather than the pop-on method. And it’s – it’s driven by cost. Truly. So, that’s my part.


PARTICIPANT: Thank you, gentlemen, for helping us provide a foundation for the discussion on live captioning quality. Now, I’d like to ask, is Bill McGill, the engineer, is he in the room? Is he around? Because we are recording the proceedings today on videotape. For companies that were hoping to participate, could not be here today and they’ve expressed a desire to have a video of the proceedings. Some of you may also wish to take a video back with you – well, you won’t be able to have it today but to have a video you can show at your companies or to your consumer organizations or friends and we will have those available for purchase. There are a few forms out on the table, here. B

ut one of the things that recording on video requires you to do is stop and change the tape every once in a while, so I’m going to ask Bill to come in and change the tape, and while he’s doing that, because we still have about another 45 minutes before our first break and because Lisa is probably exhausted, I’m going to pause for a moment before we begin our Q&A with the panel and suggest that all of you stand up and shake hands with at least two people around you. While we change the videotape.

PARTICIPANT: If we could start again.

MR. HUTCHINS: I said shake two hands. I didn’t say anything about talking.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re ready to start again and we ask everyone to take their seats. Our panel is – has made a very good presentation of many of the issues that we face in respect to live captioning. Now, I know that a lot of people in this room have concerns about many things related to captioning. But we’re going to restrict the conversation for the next 40 minutes or so just to issues related to live captioning. There are two kinds of live captioning. There’s the kind where you’re using a court reporter to create the captions at the same time you transmit them. And there are pre-scripted captions, where the captions have been typed or created in advance and are simply transmitted live during a program. We’re not going to make that distinction for this conversation.

But I would ask that people who have questions or comments would do two things. First of all, restrict your comments now to anything that has to do with live programming. Secondly, restrict your comments to 2 ½ minutes. I do have a very accurate timer and I will be timing and I will cut people off after 2 ½ minutes. But you need not ask a question. If you simply have a comment that you wish to share, whether you are a consumer or a service provider, this is your opportunity to speak. On live captioning only. So, I would ask that people who wish to speak, so that we don’t have a rush of people who might tend to block out people who use sign language and need to catch up. Form a line to this side and then take your turn at the microphone. That will make things much more orderly. So, is there anyone who wants to start it off? And those of you who may have other comments, please form a line over to this side and don’t block the monitor.

PARTICIPANT: Good morning. I had a couple of –

PARTICIPANT: OK. Here, let’s move this – we’ll move this back here.

PARTICIPANT: My name is David Viers, from the Portland, Oregon area. I want to thank the presenters for doing a fine job of telling us some of the problems. I don’t know how much of this applies to what they were saying but I have a couple of areas that I have problems with.

I use captioning all the time. One item is regarding live captioning, has to do with sports broadcasts. In fact, sometimes the scores, that’s going on, are covered up by the captions. And, so that comes into where you place the captioning relative, so the scores appearing on the games, often the announcers don’t tell you what the score is, so you’re relying upon the score that is covered up. This is an interesting thing. I was using a Magnavox TV, that was about eight years old. There was no problems. It died on me. I bought a new TV. Which you would think, you know, is a big 32-inch TV, this would be better, I hit “volume change,” which I often do, with four women, my wife and three daughters. And so they were walking into the room, and I hit the mute button so I interact with them on the – if you’re hearing impaired, you can continue to read at the same time that they’re talking to you. They think you’re paying attention.

But the new TV, when I hit the mute button or the volume change to lower the volume or raise it, what it does it blocks out the captioning for anywhere between 1 ½ seconds to three to four seconds. Depending upon the TV. And they still put the bar up there but at least you can still see the captioning underneath the bar. I’ve been looking around on this, and doing some research on it. Others, especially the one I bought, doesn’t do. That so, that’s a major problem, and I see it, it has to go back to the TV manufacturer. So hopefully, this consortium of people will be such that we can all interact and work on it from all the angles that need to be worked on. That’s probably all my time.

MR. HUTCHINS: You were right on. That was perfect. Exactly 2 ½. Any comment from the panel on the issues that David raised?

PARTICIPANT: I really think Jeff’s the expert on this one.

MR. HUTCHINS: Well, there are two issues as I see it. Two issues that David raised. First, the placement of captions during live programs, such as sporting events. In the early days of captioning, all live captions could be placed only at the bottom of the screen. When the Decoder Circuitry Act got rolling and televisions in 1993 and 1994 were built with decoders built in, the standards for display changed. And captions could be displayed, roll-up captions for live, could be displayed anywhere on the screen. So captioners make an attempt to move the captions to an appropriate part of the screen to avoid blocking live action during sport events, sporting events or to avoid graphics in news programs.

But there are two quality issues that that addresses. Number one, if the captioner cannot see the video, and that is sometimes the case when remote captioners are working, they cannot move the captions to a different part of the screen because they don’t realize the captions are blocking. And, the captions simply – it’s also a matter of the skill of the captioner. Even if they can see what they might be blocking, it’s very difficult, given all that the real-time captioner is doing, it can be extremely difficult to react to the video, because if the captioner is watching the TV screen, they are seeing words appearing that they may have written two seconds ago.

It’s a real disconnect in the brain. It’s very hard for the captioner to do. That but I believe that, you’re right, David, the placement is a huge problem, and I think that this is one of the things that captioners should be trying to resolve in their – through the methods they use for producing the captions. As far as the TV set problem that you raised, unfortunately, that’s a manufacturer problem. But it is a real problem.

Now, I said earlier, we’re not going to talk about failures of technology today, but I do believe that belongs on the table of issues that this group will ultimately wish to confront. I believe our next comment is from Jack O’Keeffe. You want to come up? And anyone else? Did you have something to say, Jim and – in regard to what I just said? Can you get on line? I think it will be easier if anyone who wishes to comment will come and stand and take their turn on line. Because if I call from out of the audience, we’re just going to get chaos. Jack, want to introduce yourself?

PARTICIPANT: You just did. I’m Jack O’Keeffe. Missing captions of breaking news events became an issue in western Pennsylvania this spring. Row owen, is the TV editor of our major newspaper, he followed up and reported in his column on april 4, the news directors of the three VHF channels were all interviewed and told they were capable of live captions but it didn’t always happen. The news director of Channel 2 said, all we have to do is call and tell them to do it, from here on out, it will be on our list of things to do when breaking news happens. On May 31, breaking news happened and I tuned in to Channel 2 at 7: 00 PM expecting to watch CBS news, Dan Rather and all the pharmaceutical commercials had been pre-empted. The station was transmitting extended severe weather warning but there were no captions, no scrolls, not even ENR. No visual presentation of the information being delivered orally.

Later, I learned the severe weather included high-velocity winds, lots of property damage, personal injury to about 60 people and one fatality. Once a broadcaster transmits such information, an obligation is incurred, both, for putting six months now under FCC rules to make that information accessible to people with hearing and vision loss. I complained first to the station and then the FCC. FCC got back to me. Promptly. The station was served with my complaint. And another public notice was issued reminding broadcasters of their obligation on the rules. The CBS law department responded to my complaint acknowledging failure to present the numbering information excessively, not only for the half-hour I complained about but for an additional three hours and 14 minutes after that. The failure was attributed to human error, regrets were expressed and assurances given that steps are being taken so that it would never happen again. I wonder how many of us would be willing to bet on it not happening again.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you, Jack. Jack wrote his comments and time them perfectly. That was admirable. Any panelists care to comment on the issues that Jack raised of emergency captioning?

PARTICIPANT: As Jack points out, there has been, for almost two years now, FCC regulations, which creates the obligation on the broadcast station that the news station’s part, and the right to expect them. I think, unfortunately, his experience is not unique, that, and again, it’s different broadcast operations of different size and different sophistication, often that obligation, the entire captioning issue is something that is a responsibility buried somewhere in the station’s management, not always at the same place and not always easy to find. So, I think some of the corrective – a series of complaints will, over time, increase the awareness on the broadcasters’ part on what their obligations are and would hopefully begin to reduce those incidents.

But I do think and this is – I don’t know what the solution is to this error, but how and where, when the captions are being created and sent out, but they’re not being delivered over the air, how and where a consumer can make those complaints known in real time and get them addressed is simply a capacity that doesn’t – doesn’t exist. And I have no idea how we solve that. But boy, there would be a lot of captioners who would be happy if there was a way for you to do that. But it breaks their heart. It breaks our hearts when we know we’re doing the work and it’s just not showing up. And you’re trying to get them and you don’t have a good place to go to get it addressed.

MR. GATES: One other thought is, as an afterthought, if breaking news happens, each of us that provides captioning will try our very, very best to get somebody on air. But it’s a resource issue. So it’s planning in advance, that when there is breaking news, that there’s someone that is ready to jump on air. As opposed to calling and hoping.

MR. KARLOVITS: What it really comes down to is cost and stations who are willing to pay the captioning companies to have people standing by and available and if there is an emergency. And it’s also, as Jack said, the availability of personnel. Most of us don’t have somebody sitting around, waiting, you know, for something to happen. We would have to call somebody, bring them in or have them gear up to do that. And, there will be some time loss between the time we would get contacted by a particular station and the time we get captions on the air.

The solution to the problem is really to have some system of monitoring and people, captioners, who are standing by on line, maybe on a national basis, so that when things happen like in Pittsburgh, or, currently, there’s a tropical storm down in Florida, with the possibility of severe wind damage and rain, that, when the stations go to these emergencies, they can be captioned. But, it comes to the dollars, the cost, and if the stations are willing to pay for that.

MR. HUTCHINS: We have another comment now from Helen fleming from the Boston area.

PARTICIPANT: Thank you very much. First of all, I just want to thank everybody for the wonderful job that you have done, thus far. And I want to speak directly to Jeff, that I am guilty as charged because for so many – I grew up in a time when there was no captioning at all. So I have been of the mindset that anything is better than nothing. But you have made me realize today that that’s not true. I can keep on expecting things to be better. I used to watch TV, never knew what was going on, and had to wait for commercials so that my husband would tell me everything that had gone on prior to the commercial. So, I think you can understand why I have been saying, for years, that anything is better than nothing.

Now, my big complaint here, if you want to call it a complaint, I want answers about CNN. They have such a cluttered screen that it’s almost impossible to see some of the captions and I have to say to see – to CNN, I don’t know what company does the captioning, I stopped watching it. I just want to say to the company that does the captioning for CNN, shame on you. It has been an insult to the intelligence of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. To think that we were going to put up with the poor job that they do. I love Larry King, I think he’s a wonderful interviewer. But something has to be done to change the background where they show the captions. It’s impossible to read them.

And if you haven’t watched CNN, please do and I think you’ll agree with me. One other point, what happens for early-morning captioned news? Late-evening captioned news. Don’t the companies realize that deaf and hard-of-hearing people sometimes like to watch early-morning news programs? That we like to watch late evening programs? If you could find any, please let me know because I would love to watch them, too. I think that’s all, Jeff. But thank you, especially for what you said.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. I’d like to just take a moment rather than asking the panel to respond, I want to say that one of the dangers of having a conference like this is the danger that the captions of a particular provider in the room are subject to the criticism of the consumers or the other service providers in the room. It’s inevitable that when we talk about the problems that exist in captioning quality, that we may, as Helen has just done, point to a specific example.

I want to say that I believe that every company in this room is sometimes guilty of not achieving the best we can do. I don’t want this conference to become a case of finger-printing. Because I think that every company in this room has also excelled in the quality that it has provided at times and if we don’t always live up to our own ideals, as Joe and the others pointed out, in the – their presentations, there are a variety of factors and reasons that that occurs. So, I would encourage you all, when you speak, don’t censor yourself.

If there is an example you wish to use of poor captioning, do so, and I would say to the service providers in the room, listen carefully. If you can learn something to improve the work you do, then accept that criticism, and if it’s not always warranted criticism, then you’ll know best how to handle that. But I don’t want people to avoid criticizing specific companies. I do want to say that I think every company here today has the ability to do, and often does, an outstanding job. And does provide good quality. The real question that we face is, what can we do to ensure that that remains true? That we don’t see a degradation of the quality that we are able to provide, number one, and actually do provide, number two. So, I thought it was important to point that out. Because I don’t want anyone in the room to feel uncomfortable. Panel has a response.

MR. KARLOVITS: Helen, I completely agree with you as one of the captioning companies that does CNN. One of the programs we do is Headline News. Of course, the beginning of the year Headline News went into a new format where 1/3 of the screen shows the anchor desk. And the rest of the screen is constantly changing information. The difficulty that we have, in fact, originally, CNN only wanted us to caption in that 1/3 of the screen. The problem there, and I saw that early on, is the captions were so fast and disappeared, it was impossible to read. Later on, I was able to convince them that we should move the captions to the top of the screen, and do a full row of captions, two lines. It is difficult.

And as far as the background on “Larry King” and any other show, not just on CNN, if – that’s a good point to raise with the network. Because we don’t really have any control of that. We don’t have any control about headline news. If you don’t like the new format of Headline News, I suggest you write CNN. Some people love it and some people hate it. So, really, as far as Vitac or, I know, Richard Pettinato and Pat are here from Media Captioning, we really don’t have a lot of control over what the network decides on how they’re going to present the program. But I encourage you to write CNN and say “I hate it.” They listen to that. They won’t listen to me, though.

MR. HUTCHINS: Our next consumer, I don’t know your name but come on up and tell us your comment. I should point out that the color of your name tag is significant. Red is for consumers. And blue is for service providers. And this is Elaine.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Elaine Dechter from Santa Rosa, California, about 50 miles north of San Francisco and I’m here with CaptionMax. First thing I’ve run into a new – I guess it’s a technical problem. I was watching Xena on the Oxygen channel. I won’t talk about the quality of the captions on that show. It’s a Canadian company doing the job. What can you say? But they do a chat room at the same time. And the other day, when it was on, the chat room comments were coming on over the captions. I have never seen this on a program before. But this is something that’s probably going to come up again as more and more things happen on the Internet. So I think that’s got to be looked into. And see what can be done about it.

I was also going to ask about – you were talking about real-time delivery with a bad phone lines. Are they using satellite or something going to help that or are there other technologies coming up that will help do better delivery than the phone lines are doing? Because I know the phones are bad. If we come up with guidelines today, who’s going to enforce them? Or how are they enforced? Like the ADA, it’s only enforced if somebody files a lawsuit. What is going to happen with all our guidelines once we come up with them? The last comment I had was, you were talking about court reporters and doing testing. Or certifying them, which sounds great, I love this with the interpreters. The interpreters often have special categories like medical or legal or something. Most court reporters are trained for legal. Maybe medical. Can’t there be categories for court reporters, too, in different areas, maybe somebody that knows political terms and how to spell names of countries and places so we don’t run into all these problems that we get? Thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you, Elaine. Panel, you want to handle Elaine’s excellent list?

MR. GOLDEN: I’m addressing the last point first. Training captioners and testing their competence in subject matter, content. Being able to spell, misses the – this is the point in my presentations where the captioners always get scared I’m going to pull a foreign dignitary’s unpronounceable name and surprise them and I won’t. Being sure they’re aware of geography, place names, heads of state’s names, political science, also, sports and cultural events. I mean, it is exceptionally challenging if you don’t know football, to caption football.

NCRA’s education initiative and this funding from Congress, the schools are now receiving, we have an expanded curricula designed for captioning which does focus on the fact that they need to know more than the legal and medical terminology that a typical court reporter does. So, yes, and we will test for that in – and certification, the schools will train to that. As these programs get up and running but it’s a very, you’re exactly correct, it’s very important that a good captioner, and good court reporter for that matter is a whole lot more than their ability to write fast.

MR. GATES: I love to talk about phones. Going from – to satellite and all of the other innovations and changes that the telecom industry is trying to accomplish will help. But it’s really an issue of having a whole – a very complex system with a lot of components, a lot of electronics. Some of which are very modern, some of which are very ancient. And with what we’ve been reading in the news lately, of large telephone companies that are very rapidly going, I think, out of business or at least in hard times. It’s going to be harder to have that much more reliability with the telephone system. So, it’s a complex issue. Satellites, yeah, they’ll help. New equipment will help, as well, but it’s – it’s a geometric progression as it goes through the system. So, everything helps a little bit. You want to say anything about it?

MR. KARLOVITS: We bear no responsibility for the Canadians.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re going to try to – anyone who is on line in the next minute will get to speak before our break and then we’re going to – we are going to take our first break of the – official break of the morning.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Teresa rogers from caption media program. And one of the presentations, I was trying to look at all of the bulletins and I didn’t see mention of this regarding live captioning. When it – when you go to commercial, the captions cut off, it isn’t necessarily complete and we might miss because it’s a couple of seconds behind. So, that’s just a question I have, or concern regarding to that.

MR. HUTCHINS: Who wants to handle that one?

MR. GATES: I’ll be happy. Because of the – because of the two or three second delay in the live captioning, it does trail what’s happening on the screen. Many captioners will actually try to stop writing a little bit before the commercial break, if they’re aware that it’s coming so that you get the complete thought, although you would still miss that last couple of seconds of what was said. But it’s because of the delay of receiving the signal, creating the captions, out over the phone lines, back over the broadcast.

MR. GOLDEN: This is again, another area where how supportive and helpful the broadcaster is if a captioning company and the captioner, the more information they have in advance, about the nature and content of the programming, and when breaks are scheduled, the more prepared they are to do – to make the kind of reactions that would mitigate, if not eliminate that problem.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. Jim?

PARTICIPANT: Good morning. Jim House from TDF, also representing CCS, TDI. I have a question for anyone on the panel. You discussed the shortage of skilled court reporters. In the past, I’ve seen you have voice recognition that is used with cart and remote cart captioning. So, is that a possibility of using voice recognition? Could you apply that to captioning and perhaps save on cost and other things?

MR. GOLDEN: I think, first, there is – you need to recognize that voice recognition software is nowhere near being able to replace a trained operator. I mean, the software is a long ways away from where you could simply have what I’m saying and your questions and things like that run through a processor that does voice detects. There are some developments currently under way and some products, some of them only a couple of months old in which a trained user using voice recognition software can use that to produce something approaching real-time captioning. There are some limits to that technology and there are some limits to what I think that technology is capable of, but it’s under development and it is something that we are, at ncra, is extremely interested in.

And we in fact have a blue-ribbon commission that is currently working on trying to assess the technology, the systems, the education, in place for, we call it voice real-time and, we will – real-time and it’s coming and we’re watching it. But at the same time, I think its very important, and I know this is not what Jim suggested in any way but it’s very important, when you talk about issues like new developments, that that not be used as an excuse for doing some of the heavy lifting and hard work we’re doing to get more schools open, to get more students into schools and produce more captioners. In the hopes that this problem will go away because of some, sort of lightning strike new development in technology.

And also encouraging, it was a small gain, but this past year, for the first time in 10 years, there was a net increase in enrollments in court reporting programs. So some of the stuff that we’re doing is beginning to have effect and hopefully, you’ll begin to see more of those graduates flowing into the work force and helping out with some of these problems.

MR. KARLOVITS: Just a quick explanation of how voice real-time works. At this past ncra convention, I received two demonstrations of encouraging technology. Actually, there’s very little difference between how the voice real-time system works and how the stenotype system works. It’s a human being. In the case we have here, using a stenotype system, inputting code, shorthand, and having a computer translate it into data. With the voice real-time system, it’s a human who is repeating what is being said in a sound environment, in a closed sound environment. And the computer is translating that person’s voice that is trained in this system. To create the great in real-time.

The difference being is that the current stenotype system is highly accurate. Depending on the competency of the writer. Whereas the real-time voice writing is just at its infancy. And we expect that it will become more predominant as time goes on. But right now, the best and most accurate system is using the stenotype real-time captioner.

MR. GATES: One last piece with that. Voice recognition is being used on a limited basis over telephones and other things where it says speak or punch one. It has a very limited vocabulary. So it can have a fairly broad range of responses. If you have something that has an extensive vocabulary and the dictionaries that – the real-timers have got hundreds of thousands of entries in them. It will not respond to different voices.

So, the idea of taking where technology is now, which my theory is that the military already has this locked up, they just won’t tell us, but – where the technology is right now, to just run an audio signal through a voice rec type of thing – voice rec type of thing, we would be dancing in the aisles if we have a 60% accuracy. That’s totally unscientific. But that’s not acceptable at this stage. But it is evolving rapidly.

MR. HUTCHINS: So this could become a quality issue as that technology develops. Let’s go ahead with our next comment. We have, I think, two more commenters after that and then we’ll take a short break.

PARTICIPANT: My name is Dave Wein, with CaptionMax. The voice recognition issue. First. The key thing is, whatever technology we use encoding or voice recognition, the quality issues are separate from how we do it. Placement, timing, roll-up, pop-up, are all completely separate. So we have to be sure we’re consistent. With what we use. I they we can all recognize that. But the issue I wanted to address was regarding captioners. The ability of captioners. Declining enrollment and so forth.

A group of captioning companies – a way that they can work to market captioning, to fill the greater demand nor the resource, which would increase ability and quality. Some lawyers in the court are beginning to enjoy having real-time captioning in the courtroom. The court reporters. Is there some way we can make that – real-time court reporting is automatically becoming captioning? I don’t know, it’s something to talk about.

MR. HUTCHINS: I would like to make sure that we stay close to time today so if you could limit your remarks to just a minute or so.

MR. GOLDEN: Quickly, ncra and the court reporting profession has been working for 15 years to try and make real-time be standard in courtroom. So that it is a long, slow process, but you are exactly correct, and we believe, once a judge sees real-time, they will never accept anything less. And I think that is part of the process of spreading, evangelizing for this service, you’re exactly on point. The more people just come to expect it, the better off we are. And we are limited resources but, NCRA spends what we can on public awareness and PR. for the profession and the service itself. For exactly that reason.

And we’ve been helped, I should acknowledge by, for example, I should mention the benefit of generous donations of slots to do public awareness of Vitac last Christmas. Christmas before last, during that Christmas season, donated a number of slots on some of the programming that they captioned for us to get those, that PR message out and that helps. That makes people want their kids to become captioners, and that’s what we need to have happen.

MR. HUTCHINS: Perhaps that is a challenge for the service providers to find innovative ways to help recruitment of people and Mark pointed out one thing Vitac has done but I’m sure that other companies are doing things, and perhaps as the day progresses, we can hear from some of the other service providers, what steps they are taking to address this shortage. Sonny, would you like to make a comment or question?

PARTICIPANT: Good morning. First of all, I would like to thank the captioners that are here, because the captions have made my life much better in the past. I was in a world of isolation in the past. Many issues that were being discussed, I was never aware of but now I can participate in the dialog with the hearing world so I do appreciate that. Thank you all. I think a big problem here is that we’re in a world of hearing people. Hearing people take audio for granted. It’s unfortunate to say that but I don’t think the FCC has rules instructing people or the industry on how to use audio. Does the telecommunications industry or television studios, do they have an SOP? Standard operating policy? On how to handle audio? Do they listen to see if the audio is missing? Do they have instructions on – instructions on instructing people to listen for sound? It’s all automatic, it’s all given.

But then when it comes to captioning, do we have procedures in writing? Do we have the standard operating policies or procedures instructing TV people on what to watch out for? Often, when you watch TV and the captions are missing, you can call the television company and say – and their response is, I don’t know what you’re talking about. They don’t know how to handle it. Maybe we need to establish an SOP for the different settings or different situations for every company that’s involved.

MR. HUTCHINS: Gentlemen, can we go for about two minutes on this? Someone care to address that?

MR. KARLOVITS: Can’t speak for the networks. Just like the Canadians, right? But, of course, Sonny is right, that – there is a standard operating procedure at the networks and at people who produce television programs, that audio has to meet a certain standard. Or else, it doesn’t go on the air. It takes hours and hours of editing before a program airs. And on live programs, there are tests that are constantly done, monitoring the audio. So, this is what the TV industry is selling. They’re selling you video and audio.

However, when it comes to captioning, there is no standard operating procedure among the networks. And, that’s probably something that we should work toward as an industry. That we put together a standard operating procedures on the monitoring of captioning and making sure that the captions are there. So that every network and every producer follows those standard operating procedures. And I – applaud Sonny for that. I think it’s a good recommendation, that we should try to pursue.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’ll have one more comment and then just stay in your seats for a few second after Debra speaks so I can just tell you what we’re going to do next. Debra? While she’s coming up, let me tell you, this woman holds the world record for a number of captioning companies worked for.

PARTICIPANT: Well, I will say when Jeff and I started in captioning together, Rachel, whose picture you saw, was in diapers. My question is for Mark. Given the fact, I think we probably will all agree, the biggest issue that’s quality in real-time is the shortage of reporters and we have two more FCC benchmarks in the next four weeks that will dramatically increase the number of hours of programming that we need captions, do you think the programs that you have in place will actually get us ahead of the problem or will we always be struggling to have enough of a qualified labor force?

MR. GOLDEN: I am very hopeful. As I mentioned, we are beginning to see results already. We have been working on student recruitment, working on schools for a number of years and we’re – as I mentioned, this last year, enrollments were up marginally but that’s after 10 years of decline. So we have reversed that trend. The first schools that we were successful in getting money for got that money about six months ago, so money is currently being invested in the school programs, so things that we have been talking about are now actually beginning to happen. I am very hopeful and reasonably optimistic that we will catch up to this.

We may – we may be a little bit behind but I think we will be close and quickly catch up to hit those deadlines, and I think the type of programs and work that we’re doing now is putting an infrastructure in place that, hopefully, it will eliminate the problem in the future. Once we get up to speed, I think we will begin to produce a sustainable and renewable resource, like the energy folks like you talk about. And the type of fixes that we’re putting in are not Band-Aids, they’re going to create a foundation for ensuring the profession is adequately staffed in the future.

MR. KARLOVITS: If there’s one thing we agree on, I think it’s that we want more quality captioners, but I also think if there’s anything that we can do going out of this room at 5: 00, as a unified group, is to support the NCRA’s program where they have legislation pending with Congress to appropriate substantial funds to train real-time captioners and cart writers. You should know that the shortage that we face as captioners pales in comparison to the shortage of people that supply our court systems. There are court systems today who cannot fill the vacancies that they have. So this is not – vacancies. That they have. This is not just a captioning thing. This also goes into the legal end of the business.

A lot of people like me are looking at retiring from our court systems and you know, they’ve been in there for 40 years and these positions are staying vacant. So it’s a compounded problem, but supporting this legislation as a group will have influence on the Senators and Congressmen here and maybe what Mark can do is to send every participant here out information on this legislation so that we can write our Congressman and our Senators to support those appropriations.

MR. GOLDEN: Thank you for that, Joe, and also, I would be terribly remiss if I did not publicly acknowledge a lot of familiar faces in the room from some of the consumer organizations for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals and the support and – that NCRA has had from that community for this lobbying effort. The letters that have been written are phenomenal and have been a very important part of the success we’ve had so far legislatively. So, thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: I see Pat Ferrara wants to make an exception and Kathy DiLorenzo, I’m going to ask them to keep their comments brief. And while pat is making her way up here, I assume you want to use the mike?

PARTICIPANT: May I, or if everybody can hear me, I’m fine.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think it’s helpful if you come up here because we are videotaping the conference and the camera can shoot you when you come up here.

PARTICIPANT: Thank you for the opportunity to speak. And I didn’t want to let this get past. But in response to the comment about a problem in calling a station and not having them respond, I’d like to just state that it’s my experience with our clients and I totally applauded – they are talking a totally proactive role in captions because they are so visible today and you know yourselves, everybody is watching them in the gyms in the morning, watching them at night.

And if a station or a news director sees something that they don’t, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else, perhaps that captioner believes, oh, I’m doing fine, that doesn’t matter, and we have very strict monitoring standards that go on continuously. But, I really applaud the fact that the stations themselves if they see something that they don’t think is quite up to the standards that they believe it should be, it may be OK, but we don’t want to do captions, nobody does in this room, that’s just OK, they will call, pick up that phone and we’re very responsive to our clients and they’re always right. And if there’s something they don’t like, we get to the bottom of it. They’re not shy to call about it. Which I think is terrific. And I think – hopefully, that will pervade throughout the industry.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thanks for that comment. Pat. While Kathy is coming up to make her comment, I want to mention one of the things we have not talked about in this live captioning is Spanish-language real-time. That is, we only have, I think a very few number of Hispanic consumers in the room today, but it’s a growing audience, I think faces many of the same issues. I don’t want to separate Spanish and English real-time as two different issues. I think they are the same issue although some approaches and issues may be slightly different. But I want to acknowledge that we have Hispanic consumers as well as English-speaking consumers. Kathy, want to use the microphone?

PARTICIPANT: Kathy DiLorenzo, director of recruitment for Vitac. In response to Debra’s question about the future workforce and Mark’s response to her regarding NCRA’s efforts for public relations. Something that you should all know and especially in this forum, as a director of recruitment, I get many, many requests from court reporters transitioning in captioning. But in addition to that, probably 10 requests for information every week I get are from seeing captions and these are people out in the public who say, I want to know how to do real-time captioning. Mark, I probably send at least 10 people a week, again, to NCRA’s Web site. This is really important, that you have contact people at your organization that can send them their way. Captioning is the best way for the public relations part of all of this. And you need active people involved in that.

MR. HUTCHINS: And the Web site address is?

PARTICIPANT: <http: //>.

PARTICIPANT: Can I go up brief?

MR. HUTCHINS: Please. We’re talking now only about live captioning, right? And there are more opportunities this afternoon for everyone to speak. But please, tell us your name.

PARTICIPANT: Hello, my name is Terri Lozano from El Paso, Texas. I’m a Spanish rep for NCI. I’d like to say that in Spanish, the captioning is very limited. I don’t know if you would go into live captioning or not, but the Spanish community really enjoys soap operas. And there’s virtually nothing in soap operas. As well as talk-show programs. We would really benefit from, whether it be real-time or not. And I’d like to expand on real-time, too, in the local sector. Whether it be Hispanic or English. Right now, when you have newscasts or any other programs and you go into live captioning, they will introduce and elaborate and everything, and then the live captioning is off, there’s nothing. The same as the weather sector of the program. They introduce the weatherman and then there’s nothing. So, I’d like to see some kind of guidelines established for the local community as well as the national networks on captioning. real-time.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you, Terri. Before we break. We are running just a tiny bit behind this morning but we’re actually in pretty good shape. I would like to keep this break. To 10 minutes. Please step up, stretch, go out, when we come back, we’re going to be talking about offline captioning. This afternoon, after lunch, you’re going to be asked to vote on which of the issues raised on both live and offline and you’ll vote separately, which issues you consider to be the most important and we’ll talk about the voting procedures later. But keep that in mind. What you’re hearing now has to be reduced to the – so that we can prioritize our efforts later. Please take exactly a 10-minute break and then we’ll come back and do the next half.

MR. HUTCHINS: Would everyone please be seated. Everyone takes your seats, please. We’re going to talk now until lunch. Actually, this is my chance, when everybody gets seated, I got the flash ready, I can’t take your picture until you’re seated. We’re going to talk now about what we in the – we what we service providers call offline captioning or sometimes referred to as prerecorded captioning. And the distinction here, because not everyone knows this terminology, any program that is, for which we must create or transmit the captions live is called live captioning. Everything else is offline. That means that the captions are created before the program is broadcast. Or, in other words, it’s prerecorded programming. That could include commercials, it could include sitcoms and movies and dramas that you see on prime time. Soap operas, any prerecorded programming.

So now the conversation is going to shift from the live programs and the quality issues that we face during live to the prerecorded programming. And we have a different panel today. All right, everybody smile. There we go. I have to take advantage because you’re not going to sit still later. We’re going to have a different panel now. Chaired, or I should say, led by Judy Harkins. Judy is with the Technology Assessment Program? Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University and she has been around captioning for many, many years. With Judy on this panel, are Tom Apone from the WGBH Media Access Program? Group. I knew I would blow it. That and also Max Duckler from CaptionMax in Minneapolis. So, Judy, can you start us off. Didn’t work.

PARTICIPANT: Jeff has helped me out with introductory remarks by introducing the panelists, we’re going to lead today with Tom Apone who will give an overview of the problems and some of the sources. Tom?

PARTICIPANT: Thanks, Judy. A lot of what I want to cover is – has already been talked about a little bit in the previous panel, so I don’t want to duplicate too much of what was said there. But suffice it to say, a lot of problems occur in the – in the technical side of captioning and in the transmission of broadcast and reception of captioning for which we sort of get blamed. That’s not to say we are – we don’t bear any responsibility, I think it’s important to note that while it could be a broadcaster’s or cable company’s problem, we need to share in solving the problem. We get the feedback from the consumers and we need to help channel that feedback to the broadcasters and networks and help them figure out what went wrong, how they can make the system work better. I have a list of typical problems here that we see and we’ve tried to prepare this from the perspective of the viewer, the end user. These are things you might be seeing at home.

And again, most of these are caused by problems in transmission or reception and – but again, all of them are perceived as bad captioning. So, there are things we want to help solve. Most of these are true of real-time captioning and offline captioning. The last one in particular here, I want to talk a moment about. As Jeff said, the offline captioning is a process that occurs for prerecorded programs. A company prepares a program and it’s a – edits a videotape and provides us with a copy of that tape from which to do our captioning, our job. But while we have that copy, they may continue editing the tape before final air. That’s a problem we’ve run into a couple of times where we’ll prepare captions that reflect the audio on the tape that we got, meanwhile, somebody’s changing something back at the production studios and when the captions get put on to that tape, encoded on to that tape, they may not match for several lines or several parts of the dialog.

Frequently, it’s not a big problem but it is a problem and it’s something that’s very frustrating to us as we try to prepare those perfect captions and people are starting to change the rules as we go along. We had a fairly serious example of that a couple of years ago with a program, the last scene of the big season finale was the main character listening to a – an answering machine, a message on an answering machine. So the video didn’t change. It was the main character pushing the button on the answering machine and reacting to what he was hearing. But in our tape, he was trying to decide between two women, which woman he was going to do – pursue a romantic relationship with. When he pushed the answering machine on our tape, it was woman a telling him something. And he was reacting. On the air, it was the other woman. They decided at the last minute to change the storyline, or perhaps they even put that in there to throw the cast and crew and media off. They do things, producers and networks do things like that occasionally.

But we had to go through the process of, first of all, dealing with our frustration about how that could happen, and then getting back to the production facility telling them what happened, telling them how important it is for them to let us know when they’re changing audio, when they’re changing content like that, they’ve got to let us know, they’ve got to give us a chance to update the caption file and make that match. So, moving on from technical problems, let’s talk a little bit about things that we do have control over. Things that a consumer might see at home. That would be caused by a captioning company. Again, a fairly straightforward list, reflects closely to some of the things that Joe and Jack were talking about this morning.

PARTICIPANT: Tom, I hate to interrupt. For the visually impaired consumers in the audience, can you generally go over those bullet points?

PARTICIPANT: I’ll be happy to. I’m going to pass on the page one again because those are technical things that you talked about, I think in, general. Covered them very well. If the handout, if you have that handout, we’re talking about section two, here. Certainly, captions could contain spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Those are things that will jump out at you. Now, sometimes they’re real spelling mistakes, sometimes they’re similar to the example that Jeff had this morning about moron insurance. That looks like a spelling error. That’s the – to most consumers, that’s, oh, my gosh, how could anyone be so stupid to put that caption up there?

But as Jeff said, not likely a caption company problem. But, the fact is, we do make spelling errors, we do make grammatical errors. And they’re not acceptable and we certainly want to avoid them and do what we can to avoid them. A second error is, captions don’t match what’s being said. And this is from the perspective of the captioner, the caption creator not understanding or misunderstanding what the dialog is. Not it being changed without them knowing. That can be a lot of simple things, just not hearing, not being able to interpret what’s being said.

It can also be, frankly, some generational and experiential things. We have a lot of 25 and 30-year old caption writers who are very sharp but if you start talking about World War II or jitterbugging or something from before their experience they don’t necessarily know so they make an attempt to interpret it. It’s something that makes sense to them in their experience. But again, not a good way to handle the problem. You got to ask some questions, you got to do some research. Captions can be timed inappropriately or placed inappropriately on the screen. This could be an example of a caption being under or below the speaker – below the person who is not speaking.

We always at the Caption Center and the Media Access Group try to place that caption below the person on the screen who is speaking. If they’re just placed in the center of the screen, you don’t know which of those two people on the screen are speaking. If the timing is way off, if someone’s talking but that caption doesn’t appear until almost the next person starts speaking, that can throw you off and be very hard to follow. Captions that are heavily or inappropriately edited. I would say this is something that’s not happening much anymore. That caption companies have all responded very, very well to strong consumer preference for verbatim captioning or much of that text as possible. So, we don’t see a lot of heavy editing anymore, but again, occasionally, we try to adjust the reading speeds or things just going so fast that there is some editing that goes on and it has to be done very carefully.

Speaker identification, is a critical issue. If someone is speaking offscreen or if there are many people on screen, placement is not going to give you that information. You have to have a speaker ID or some other technique to identify that speaker. And, important sound effects and other audio information. Again, very important to know that the doorbell was rung or the phone is ringing or a gunshot. These are, as far as, I think most of us are concerned, nonnegotiable, critical elements to a good captioning job. The final point on my list here is, sort of a catchall foreign features that a company is using that perhaps don’t adequately convey information or may even be a little misleading about the information on the – the audio information in a program. I’m not sure I have a good example right off the top of my head. There are some things that people misinterpret when they see captions. I can tell you, from our point of view how we, what we do to approach these things and try to prevent these things from happening, and again, follow closely to what Joe said earlier, these are good business practices for any company in any industry, I think.

You want to find good people, you want to train them well. You always look for people who we call wordsmiths, English writers, journalists, people with some experience in editing, or proofreading, people who really care about the language and want to make it right. We try to train them in the best way we know how with good, solid training programs, good documentation, good input from consumers so they know who they’re serving and why they’re doing what they are doing and why it’s important to the people who rely on captioning. We want to give captioners the time to do their job well. It takes some time to do this right. You have to be able to stop and think, go over to the dictionary and get somebody else to listen if you don’t hear it quite right or if it doesn’t make sense to you, you’ve got to do it once and then you’ve got to check it over again.

And that follows to the next point about having the resources. You’ve got to have access to the Internet to look things up and dictionaries and reference books and the ability to look at the script. Call the producers if you don’t know a character’s name or what’s going on in a scene. Very bad idea to be guessing about these things ultimately. We always want to provide after a captioner has created a caption file, we always provide a second review unless the time constraints, unless it’s so down to the deadline that that would be the only time when a second review doesn’t occur. It’s amazing how many things the best captioners will still miss and a second set of eyes will catch. And that is standard procedure in any newspaper, magazine, book publisher. You always have an editor, proofreader checking things, back check.

Finally, we want to be monitoring broadcasts to see if we’re seeing problems and feeding back information to the broadcasters and soliciting, taking in that information that we’re seeing seeking from consumers, if we did anything wrong or problems from the broadcaster’s end and helping educate the broadcasters. They’ve frankly gotten much better, certainly the major networks care about this now. I know at CBS and PBS and the other major networks, these are considered technical failures. If there’s no audio or video, it’s written up as a technical failure and if no captioning appears, it’s a technical failure, they want to know what happened and how and how we can prevent it the next time around. I want to turn it over to Max here and talk about stylistic issues.

PARTICIPANT: See what’s left to talk about. First of all, I want that say it’s an honor to be here speaking to all of you. To my colleagues and to you, the end users of our service. Who – as Mark and Jeff mentioned earlier, you’re not always included in the important decisions in captioning. It’s the nature the business. You are paying for it so it’s great to all be together. I also want to thank Jeff and Jo Ann for doing an outstanding job and for being able to be here. What I want to do today, as Jeff mentioned, we want to come out here with – we want to vote on what the issues are that are important to us that we want to dig into further.

So I’d like to kind of cut to the chase here, and propose some objective considerations and subjective considerations that would be the basis for the fundamental framework for developing captioning standards. And I have four fundamentals, which I’ll call them objective standards, and I think everybody here today has gone over these. One, that captions must accurately transcribe what is being said. That’s not reflect what is being said or reinterpret what is being said but to transcribe what is being said. Captions must include information a allowing the viewer to identify the speaker. Doctor to identify the speaker. Captions must transcribe sound effects and other audio components that are not dialog. In parentheses, man falls on floor is not a sound effect. Thud is a sound effect. So this would be a fundamental consideration.

The fourth one is captions must be comprehensible. The considerations would be including speed, punctuation and italics. So, while captions, and I’m sure most of the vendors in this room for captioning services will meet these four objective criteria. Even the best of us are going to differ on the following areas, stylistic issues. This is an area that I’ve heard time and time again through E-mails, phone calls, and my own reading and observations, it’s frustrating for the consumer. It would be wonderful to at least come out of some of these issues as some of the candidates for a group resolution and we might try to alter some of these things the same way. Italics, the use of italics, what should they be used for? Should they follow the common rules of writing? For example, titles, if there’s an offscreen voice. What about the distinguishing speech from titles of publications of books, movies, songs, etc.?

Placement of captions. Different formats that you currently see, of how captions are placed on the screen. Should they follow the speakers around the screen? Should captions be placed in one spot on the screen for each specific speaker? This is something that would be nice to be informed on, as well. Justification, a few of us talked about, how the captions are aligned, are they on the left side on the screen or aligned on the right side of the screen or the center, or a combination? Left but moved over to the right, or justified all the way to the right? This, you flip from station to station and you’ll see many different ways of doing this, and I have heard this is, like someone else said, it’s better than nothing that we have this, but it would be wonderful if we all did this the same way.

So this is a candidate that I would like to consider for something that maybe we can come together on. And a big one is verbatim. How do we define the word “verbatim” as it relates to offline captioning? Because we’ve said, OK, we all agree we want verbatim, but we also have heard today the term “reading rate” which is how many words per minute can you have up on the screen when you read and still understand what’s being said in the program? If we do decide on a reading rate that would be OK to have, what would the maximum be? Would we vary that rate for the programming type? And if we do have a reading rate, is it preferable to edit the captioning or be out of sync with the audio to conform with that rate?

There’s two different ways to deal with that reading rate. Should we have a minimum time for a caption to be on the screen? Another style consideration that varies is moving captions to match cuts. Especially in dramatic presentation where you have pop-on captions. We always tried, and most tried to make captions he is esthetically pleasing so that there’s – esthetically pleasing. Is that important? Does that matter. Does that take extra time to do? Is it something we all want to do? Do we want to include it in our standards?

Case. Is it preferable for captions to appear in all upper case or in sentence case? And if we do decide on upper and lower case or upper case, should all speaker IDs be upper, should sound effect be all upper and is it necessary to have this uniform from company to company? And this one has been spoken about two or three times and this is, I think, we’re really seeing a lot of, especially in the last two years, and that is, networks and program providers are trying to reach the FCC standards and get things as cheaply as possible and that is the issue of pop-on, roll-up and real-time. Do we need to make pop-on captions for prerecorded material. If we do have that reinforced as someone commented on before. And prerecorded captions are required on prerecorded video.

I noticed we were all seeing a lot of our clients come to us and they’re asking us to do dramatic shows, comedy shows, even movies, live, because they’ve done the math. They can see that live real-time captioning is a lot less expensive than pop-on or to do prerecorded. Is this something that we would like to propose as a requirement and who do we go to to make this a requirement? This is a real important one. This we’re seeing more and more. And if it’s something that is very bothersome to people to see shows that are prerecorded, that we obviously don’t need to be done live, who do we go to to complain. Judy will talk more about that.

One of the things that falls under roll-up captioning. We do it for prerecorded programs, that generally, if the program is a documentary, say it’s a voiceover and it’s that type of a show, we think that’s – we think that’s OK to do it that way and some of the other companies, too, is that OK? Can we come up with a standard of when it’s OK to use roll-up for prerecorded shows versus when it’s not OK. And if we do come up with a standard for that, should we say it has to be two lines, three lines, two lines at the top of the screen or two lines at the bottom of the screen. And if we’re going to move the two lines out of the way for graphics, for example, do we move it two lines at the very top, or just move it up out of the way of the graphics?

Again, what I’m doing here is not coming from me. It’s – this is coming from consumer feedback that we get every day via E-mail, our Web site, supervisory board and just in general conversation. Even going out and talking to people who are hearing and use captions for whatever reason they use captions and bringing them to our attention. And then the last point I wanted to bring up was that the United States is a multicultural country. Its main language, it’s spoken here. Spanish being one of the main languages now.

And we have programs that are mostly English that have Spanish portions in them. Now, should this be captioned in Spanish? Should this be a requirement? Should Spanish programs that have English portions in them have portions in English? And should that be just left up to the captioning company or should we try to set a standard of quality that we could all follow on non-English portions of the program? So, my conclusion is is we need to determine which of these things that I’ve talked about and that have been talked about by some of the other speakers this morning, which of these items do we need to discuss and how will we come to some agreement on at least a few of these? It’s my hope for the remainder of the day that in subsequent conferences that we will come to some conclusions on these things. I’ve been hearing this for years so I’m really excited that this is looking like it might happen. Thank you very much.


PARTICIPANT: Hi. Like everybody else, I went to – want to express my gratitude for the conference but especially being invited. I’m neither a advisory committee member nor an industry member. I’m from Gallaudet and have a colleague with me, Steve Weiner, who is an adviser. I teach a three-credit course about captioning to deaf undergraduates so that keeps me current with your industry and in terms of what young people are thinking and giving them an opportunity learn. So that if they came to this conference, they would understand what was going on.

And, one of the things I wanted to point out about the conference is that this is an example of leadership that we have come to expect from the Department of Education since the very earliest days of captioning. I hope that we can all do what we can to keep the Department of Education involved in captioning, because I think this leadership role is and continues to be very important. Even as the captioning requirements increase. I’m going to – I do a lot of work with other industries with regard to telecommunication accessibility and when we talk about setting standards, we’re very often in a difficult situation where we are in an industry where there’s a lot of innovation happening very fast. And companies are unwilling to standardize. I think we could all agree that for captioning, the industry is mature enough that it may be a good time to be able to standardize. And at the same time, recognize that new technology is coming in with the EIA-708 captions, so we’ll have a new challenge in terms of what the other, in those new captioning features to employ, especially in offline captioning.

Just wanted to mention some of the research that’s been funded by the Department of Education over the years, because as you know, when you have an advisory committee meeting, you may have 10 or eight people in a room looking at a comparison of presentations and you may get a lot of different opinions or split opinions in terms of what you should do. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a larger sample looking at the same material and try to at least get an idea of what overall preferences might be, although we know we will not have unanimity.

So I would like to, in some cases, if you’re going to work towards standards and consensus standards is, in some cases you may want to look at some of the research that was done that may help be tiebreakers, for example, if there is a disagreement with standards. Carl Jensema has done research on captioning. He did a 1998 study on rate and asked for users preferences as to rate on video material. It wasn’t a challenging, kind of eyes-busy kind of material but he tested it with people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing, as well as children. And found that an average presentation rate of 145 is comfortable for a wide variety of viewers. Although higher rates can be sustained. And this also fits with the, a very common rate for offline captioning. So it’s, you know, a good statistic to have. Earlier in the decade, my group did a study on caption features and this was to celebrate the building in of decoders with new features into TV sets.

So we looked at different issues in offline captioning. We did not evaluate placement. We assumed placement was something that consumers wanted. And we tested some color features and other features and came up with some findings that might be useful to you as you consider whether or not there are some things you could standardize on. One of the things that was interesting to me in our study and continues to be as I talk with students, is that color does not test well, here and perhaps this is because our colors in our EIA-608 decoders are kind of garish and intrude in the viewing experience. That’s what people telling me.

With color coming into EIA-708 decoders, we want to see what happens in other countries that are using color with placement, for example. Australia, where consumers find this be a very good thing. And when they have access to our captions without color and theirs with color, I hear from them they appreciate color in that situation. So the use of color, I think we still can’t rule out, even though it’s been rejected, in some of your focus groups, for features with offline captions. There’s a study that was just done that, Alice just handed me this morning, a dissertation in California on comparing educational programming and news programming in terms of quality of captioning. So it’s another new piece of research to consider.

The final thing I wanted to say was to go back to the barriers to – barriers to consumer influence. On captioning quality. Because, when I teach this in my course, it becomes very apparent to me. I develop form letters for my students to use, I try instill in them the importance of complains as often as they can bring them. So to do it when something seriously wrong happens with captions. I’m going to use Jack O’Keeffe’s letter if you will let me in the future, a course as something that got a response from the FCC but consumers like everyone else, need someone that they can talk to, who understands what the issues are and that’s why they come to you very often, even though the problem may not be yours to solve. And this problem has to be fixed. I think this is really critical.

I think it was Mark who did a nice job of explaining how this is not a real job in terms of consumer’s ability to influence. So that problem, I think needs to be fixed by whoever has the power to do that. And then, secondly, specifically, with regard to complaining to the FCC, I was very gratified to see the response that Jack got, but I’ve heard of other circumstances where people write in and the information takers or the people who do the FCC info call-taking and query answering often do not have the knowledge that you have at all to be able to figure out what happened and will send a copy of the law or the regulation to the consumer. And so, that is another problem in terms of consumer feedback and I hope that in terms of moving ahead with quality initiative that that will be something that can be part of the solution. Thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: Time to take this side of the room. [Takes a snapshot with camera] There we are. Everybody smile. I’m done. No more flashing lights. Just had to do that. Thank you all very much. I’m actually going to ask to you kind of shift over here and we’re going to do the Q&A now. The problems that we face in offline. Again, we’ll follow the same format. Asking anyone with comments to line up on that side of the room and I do have a request that we first allow Anita, I believe the last name is Flannagan, to come up because Anita is today nursing a problem with her leg and she cannot stand and wait for her turn to speak so we’re going to allow Anita to speak first and while Anita makes her way up to make her comments, I’ll again – thank the panel and remind that you after lunch we’re going to have easels up here and we’ll introduce it a little bit more right after lunch. How we’re going to vote and who gets to vote and so on. We will pass out dots you will use for voting. So do not vote during lunch. You will see the easels when you come back from lunch. But wait until we give you some instruction. All right, Anita. What’s your can comment?

MS. FLANNAGAN: I’m not sure if my situation, if this happened only in Rochester, New York, which is where I’m from. Lately, I’ve noticed that the format of television has changed. For example, watching a movie or some other TV show, then something comes up to the corner – comes up in the corner of the TV screen where they might have, like, election announcements. I’m wanting to watch the movie and not see this information about the election. Because I know I can catch up on the results of the election later. Second thing is, in Rochester, when there’s a storm warning, the captions cover the storm warning or the feed that comes across the screen, so, I’m just curious if those two things happen in other places as well.

PARTICIPANT: I can talk about that. In both of those examples, that you gave, it would be the local station that’s manipulating the video signal that has the captions on it, and the captions should be – if the TV station has the right equipment, stripped off, and then reinserted after the manipulation of the videos and the captions stay intact. That would answer the first part of your question. Where they say they squeeze this box into it or they squeeze the picture down into a box and at the same time, there’s, they’re maybe squeezing the captions, down, too. There’s equipment out there the station should have in their transmission path that would strip the captions off of the caption master and then reinsert it downstream of this manipulation.

That’s where it should be happening and if they’re not, this – it would help to talk directly with the local station. And on the second issue about when there’s weather information on the bottom of the screen and the captions will cover that up, same thing again. There’s hardware available out there and all the stations in my market have the ability and they do this, when the weather scrools across the bottom, they’ll take the caption data and lift it up one or two lines so then, again, it’s a hardware issue, the local station issue, I would suggest that, in the first place, you try talking to them.

PARTICIPANT: A small consolation but it is happening hundreds of times all around the country on local stations. It’s a problem that, where each station has to learn how to do this and no one has provided them with the – a plan or an approach to solving this problem. In effect, you’re asking them to do two different things and – in these two different circumstances, which again, complicates it a little more. But, as Max said, there’s hardware available to do this and there’s expertise if they call us or they call one of the other captioning agencies, they can get technical assistance and figure these things out. So, keep the pressure on them I guess is my best advice.

MR. HUTCHINS: Nancy, you have a comment?

PARTICIPANT: My comment more has to, good morning, everyone. Has more to do with when you were talking about misspellings and language errors, I’ve seen an increasing number of inaccurate syntax use where they will use he – “hear” as opposed to “here” which completely changes many times the context. I would like your thoughts on, whether you see this trend, I see this happening at an alarming rate of increase, let’s say from the last five years. I don’t know why it’s happening because it’s happening in prerecord as well as real-time.

MR. HUTCHINS: Stay up here for a moment because I have a feeling you may want to do a follow-up once we’ve heard from our panelists.

PARTICIPANT: Maybe you want to answer.

MR. HUTCHINS: I always want to answer but I’m going to shut up.

PARTICIPANT: Again, the problems are mostly one of just the time to do the job right. Now, there are more and more instances where we have less time to work on a program simply because the producers are editing that program up to the last minute. We don’t get the copy that we need to start our job until the day before the program is going to air, sometimes even hours before it’s going to air. That didn’t happen five or 10 years ago. Editing equipment and digital editing on the production side has gotten so slick and easy to use that producers feel like they can keep working and polishing and editing right up to the last minute. That’s one factor.

The other factor is, again, costs going down, people being under some pressures to get things done and not having enough time to spend on it. As I say, we always try to do multiple reviews of things but I see, frankly, more errors in the New York Times than I used to 10 years ago, I think. I think it’s a problem of, you know, last-minute rushing in a lot of different industries these days. But reviews help catch it but we don’t catch every one.

MR. HUTCHINS: Let me just interject because we are close on time, here. I think, you know, we’ve got – the central question that we may face and I really want to explore it more after lunch, is exactly what Nanci gets to, here. Is there a problem? Do we, do you consumers believe that quality is better today than it was? Worse today? About the same? Is there a trend that we can identify and if there is a trend, what is it and do we need to do anything about it? I think, what I just heard from Nanci is one of the first times today I’ve heard a consumer say, I think that there are more problems in captioning today than I have seen in the past. And that’s really a very important point for all of you here today to think about. And try to respond to that question from me to you. Shall we move ahead and get the next comment? Thanks, Nanci.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Mitch Turbin from Portland, Oregon. And I want to make the comment here that unambiguously, I think we do need to work towards quantifiable, mandated standards for improving caption quality. I think if court reporters and cart reporters have quantifiable standards with certification, we can use some of that information to establish standards for quality in broadcast captioning. We may not be able to go quite that high but we can start moving in that direction and certainly establish quantifiable standards. I’m seeing real-time captioning happening here where synchronization is superb, probably within a second.

I say “60 Minutes” every week and all summer where they’re rebroadcasting segments done two years ago and sometimes the captions, two minutes behind what they’re displaying. So, I think we need to work as consumers and companies and educators to kind of demand that the FCC and the Department of Education establish standards and, specifically, a certain aspects of quality and synchronization.

And the other comment I want to make is on the issue of legibility of sentence case. I’m legally blind and I can tell you that sentence case, using the broadcast spot, impedes visual legibility significantly, but I’ve worked with a number of senior citizens with other impairments and there’s also cognitive processing issues that develop with age. Unambiguously again and again, they will comment, particularly in offline programming, where there’s more of a tendency to use sentence case. It makes it more difficult to read. Not just to see, but to process. So, I think we cannot have mixed case with the broadcast font.

However, and one of the things that we should talk about in the future, I think Judy was bringing that up, real-time captioning and sometimes offline captioning, when it’s used in access in live meetings or classrooms, I see caption writers who are using better fonts. So, I’ll sit in a meeting sometimes and we’re using Times New Roman or Arial, a true typesetter font. It’s much more legible, much easier to read, more relaxing to read. I think we need to start moving in that direction, in terms of broadcast captioning, also.

MR. HUTCHINS: OK. Thank you very much. Mitch. Good comments. Reactions from the panel and let’s keep it moving.

PARTICIPANT: I can say, Mitch, that we will have a lot better choices of fonts in a few years and the new 708 digital captioning, we’ve been working closely with consumer manufacturers of consumer products and providing them data streams to test and develop new decoders. So that really should help you. Consumers will likely have the ability to choose some fonts, sizes, even some limited color and placement approach. And it’s going to – captioning is going to look very different in, I would like to say five years but maybe it’ll be 10 years. Things always seem to move a little more slowly on the digital television front.

PARTICIPANT: For now, the best bet, unfortunately, the only bet is to go to a local television retailer, turn on all the captions and see which one looks the best for you.

PARTICIPANT: They don’t have caption programming in the [inaudible].

PARTICIPANT: That’s the other thing.

PARTICIPANT: Many of them do. Looking, comparing the models is very true because the different fonts that they build into their chip, they only get put in one font but it can be dramatically different from a Zenith to a Panasonic.

PARTICIPANT: The technology we use today for captioning is not controlled by the caption service provider. There is no code that the captioner can send that says, make this Times New Roman or make it Arial. They do control the case. But they don’t control the font. That’s controlled by the manufacturer and, unfortunately, we are still in that respect dealing with a technology that was first developed in 1975, 1976 time frame. You’re dealing, in other words, at home, with a – even if you buy a new television set today, that TV set is using almost three decade-old technology to display the captions. So, until we can move to newer technology, which is the digital world that’s coming, coming, we are going to be limited on what we can do in that front. Next comment, I think is Tom Cooney?

PARTICIPANT: Thank you. Good morning. My name is Tom Cooney. From Clearwater, Florida. It’s great to be part of this wonderful conference this morning. And later this afternoon. I’m sure that what we discuss will lead to the future improvements in captioning. My 15 minutes of fame, if you want to start counting, two years ago, I was at the Super Bowl signing the national anthem, and I was thinking about the commercials because I know that many hearing and deaf, I know there are many commercials on the TV, people tend to run to the bathroom or get snacks during commercials of the Super Bowl. Really, those commercials are – they are a source of a lot of money, big bucks.

So, I have a friend in the NFL, and the NFL is a tremendous sports organization, and I am a big sports fan. But it’s sad to say that only 37% of the advertisements of the commercials during the Super Bowl are captioned. I wonder if those large companies realize that deaf people are also watching, and when they don’t see anything on the commercial, whereas the hearing audience, maybe they need some advice from – about that so they can improve those commercials. And I’m wondering how that they can be – contact the companies that produce the commercials, I wonder if you can give me some advice about that.

MR. DUCKLER: This is an excellent point. It’s a shame that these commercials that produce it aren’t going to spend more to caption it. The excuse is there’s no time to do it but we know it takes less than half an hour to caption a 30-second commercial, so it’s not the right answer. What I would say to do there is the – contact the advertiser, the company that’s sponsoring the – that is paying for this commercial. And we believe, believe me, me and all the other caption providers in this room have all gone directly to the advertisers to educate them. Education is the key thing, here.

But, it may not be as responsive to us because we’re trying to sell them something. As they would be to you, who are potentially going to buy something from them. Money speaks a whole lot louder. And I’ll use this as an example without naming names, but, a large retail organization here that sells electronics in the country, one of the biggest, came to us and they – they sell, one of the biggest sellers of digital and high-definition television. We caption one of their spots. They wanted to put the captions on high-def. So we went to some of the networks that they were buying time on and they were airing these spots during programs who were high-def. And we talked to the networks and said, we’re not really set up to caption in high-def or transmit to high-def caption signal, and that’s true. They’re not totally set up.

But, when I relay that information back to our client who happened to be the advertiser, for the company that was buying this time, they then went back to the network and said, hey, we’re spending millions of dollars of time and we sell high-def TV sets in our stores, we would like the commercials to appear with 708 captions. What are you going to do about it? Let me tell you, that raised some attention. So if you can get to the advertisers, the people that are paying for these things, it’s going to speak a lot louder than coming to us. Come to us and we’ll do our best and we’ll take your comments directly to the advertisers, but when you go to them and say, hey, look, I’ll buy your products when you start captioning the commercials that you advertise. I think that’s going to make a big difference.

MR. HUTCHINS: We get the next comment. I’ll mention terms. EIA-608 and -708. EIA is the Electronic Industry Association. And they have worked over the last 12 years to promote technical standards for caption displays for the decoders that are used. 608 refers to the TVs that you see here today and the same old television sets you’re used to. 708 refers to a new standard for high-definition DTV. So we can talk more about that later if you have specific questions but that’s what those terms mean. Claude.

PARTICIPANT: Thank you. Hi, Jeff and hi there, everybody. I am Claude Stout and I’m here as a guest with the Media Access Group from Boston. I work at TDI. I applaud the fact that we’re all here and I want to applaud the captioning companies, all of you, for your good work on captioning programs on a daily basis, the programs that pop up on our TV screens every day. Thanks to you companies, we are able to see the captioning. But we’re here to discuss quality today. We consumers pursue this on a daily basis. Many of us have complaints and concerns but we don’t know who to complain to. Can we – where do we send our letters of complaint?

So I have to tell you that our consumers nationwide, their confidence in sending a complaint letter is very low. They have almost no confidence that anything will be done. Many of our consumers have sent letters to the local stations, to the network or to the FCC and more often than not, they don’t get any response. Or, they’ll get an answer but the answer is, way far off the point. Sometimes they get an answer, because they get a copy of the rules and so forth. Many of our consumers have lost confidence so they’re not longer going to be sending letters of complaint. So, because of that situation, or because of those situations and issues, I’m a member of the FCC’s telecommunications advisory board, it’s the consumer with disabilities telecommunications advisory board and I have made pushes with the FCC and they have started improving their informal complaint procedures.

We have asked the FCC to consider requiring that local TV stations and the network and so forth, also the FCC itself have a single point of contact. For receiving these complaints and issues. So I would like to urge you guys as consumers and captioners, to do the same, to encourage the FCC and the local TV stations and the network to come up with their own single point of contact to handle these issues. Whether it’s up on their Web page, they’ll have a name of a person and their E-mail address and mailing address and their phone number. And fax number. And this information, so that those of us consumers if we see a problem with a certain program, we know who to contact. And if I know the person I’m directing my letter to, I can expect a follow-up specifically from that person. So, again, I at TDI and other national groups like NAD and Self-Help for the Hard of Hearing and Consumer Advocacy Network and so forth, we encourage that the TV networks, FCC, and captioning providers that the all of the information is available with a single point of contact for these issues.

MR. HUTCHINS: Not sure that needs any – that was great. Jim? And by the way, we will be hearing this afternoon a little bit more from Traci Randolph of the FCC who is going to talk a little bit about how she can help you to have a forum for your complaints.

PARTICIPANT: Hello again. One thing that I don’t think was discussed by the panel is how do you deal with idioms? For example, I was watching a TV program, and the camera – actually, I caught them saying something “once in a blue moon,” I caught it. But the caption came out “once in are a while.” That kind of puzzled me. But I know that could be a multicultural issue. Also, it could deal with the verbatim issue, so I wonder if someone could address that.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re shooting for verbatim but we really shouldn’t be reinterpreting what’s being said. It could be – it could have been a reading rate issue. I don’t know. But the verbatim using word for word is what we should be shooting for.

PARTICIPANT: I’m hard-pressed to explain why someone would have changed that. That’s the long and short of it. You say one word, if it’s blue moon and a while, I guess. You don’t even –


PARTICIPANT: It could have been a very old program from –

MR. HUTCHINS: Debra says it could have been a very old program from the days when the philosophy of captioning was different.

PARTICIPANT: That’s an excellent point. A lot of our programs from 10 and 12 years ago are resurfacing on cable networks, Nick at Nite, TV Land places and those programs were reprogrammed at 150 and 180 words per minute. It’s very expensive to go back and recaption those.

MR. HUTCHINS: Judy pointed out a study from Carl Jensema that said a comfortable reading rate is 145 words a minute. Most offline programs are spoken at about 150 words a minute. So if you wanted to get comfortable, the old philosophy was you’ll cut out between five and 20 words per minute. When you do that, you have to make changes, you’re not captioning verbatim. I’d be curious, Judy, if you had a comment – maybe I’m putting you on the spot but I wonder what your spouts are in response to Jim’s comment.

PARTICIPANT: I have – I would just say I have also seen in some of the newer programming, some of this recurring. I don’t know if it’s a particular company. I haven’t tracked it that far, but I think it’s something to keep an eye out for. But in general, it’s something that is – has almost disappeared or had almost disappeared from captioning.

MR. HUTCHINS: It might be that this afternoon, I want to hear from the other captioning companies, maybe there’s somebody who disagrees that verbatim is the way to go. This has not been a universally agreed upon philosophy. And so, Jim, you had a follow-up? Then we’ll come to Bob.

PARTICIPANT: Just a short follow-up if I may. It could also be an educational issue. That the person watching, maybe their educational level is one that has different requirements.

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s true, and it could be an issue of the intended audience. There has been some – most captioners that I know believe that verbatim is appropriate for general audience programs. But there are some folks who would say, let’s not try to do verbatim for – for programs directed at very young children. That is too difficult for them to keep up. So there’s a philosophy here that has to be resolved, first. It’s not necessarily a quality failure. It may be a deliberate attempt by the captioner to target the captioning to an audience. These are very complex issues. Bob, can we have your comment?

PARTICIPANT: My name is Robert Davila from Rochester, New York. I’m CEO of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. I don’t really have a question. But I do have a comment. And – a comment on top of my comment. Available venue and available information. In order to understand better – what the real situation is with respect to problems that we encounter with captioning. And we’re able to have the advisory board for Media Captioning purposes in Carlsbad, California, representing other captioning companies. My point is the interesting results are happening which hasn’t happened yet. I did one of the early-on studies of captioning, and the effectiveness of captioning in 1972 for my dissertation. At that time, NCI closed its consumer research department, Carl Jensema was very active in doing research and Judy Harkin has done valuable research aside from that, little more has happened.

The point I want to make is that we know very little about how deaf people read or view captions. We have interpreters so deaf people can see what other hearing people hear. We know very little about how deaf people look at interpreters and what they get from it, same with captions. We don’t know what a deaf person looks at. Whether he is looking at clue or key words, and combining that with a visual content of what he sees. To give sufficient understanding of what is happening. So we might concern ourselves of the reading ability of deaf people, with the level of their reading vocabulary and so forth. We need to know, also, how the – they look at captions. NTID, RIT, we are beginning studies on visual gazing, visual gazing. RIT engineers take equipment, instruments, they will track eye gaze. Want to do some research as to how people view captions and interpreters, so that we’ll know and understand better how we can make captions a real instrument for learning. 30 or 35 years ago, when captions were introduced, and they became part of our everyday expectations, we were excited.

We are now making the human voice visible for deaf people. In time, there will be a language explosion and deaf people will be able to read and write on a par with any person. But it didn’t happen. Why? We don’t know the answer. We need to continue to do research and that research will help the industry. It will also help us work everyday with other people.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. Great comment. Yes, please.

MR. APONE: Those are wonderful comments. We would – all the captioning agencies would love to see more research. Desperate for more research would almost be a way to put it. It’s very expensive to do high-quality in-depth research as Judy and Carl and other folks can tell you. Now, we try to do focus groups, we try to do what we can, but frankly, if you get 10 people in a room, you can get 12 opinions. In many cases. So that’s not always a good answer.

But as much as research on captioning and readability and those kinds of issues, what, I think Tom mentioned about the Super Bowl commercials, our clients and the advertiser are always asking us for market research, as well. How many deaf consumers are watching captions? How many deaf consumers are buying my product? We don’t have any of that information. We don’t have any hard numbers there to give people, either. Those are both areas where we could use some serious research.

MR. HUTCHINS: Let’s take our final comment before we break for lunch, sue?

PARTICIPANT: My name is Sue Bungard. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio, from the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center. I’m in community services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. First of all, please accept my thanks for permitting all of us to work together as a team. And improving the captioning for television across the United States. I promised my consumers that I would bring this one important question for you today. Oftentimes, when we watch the news, we see that the captions have moved up to almost the middle of the television. And, it camouflages the faces of newscasters. It’s more like we’re reading a book rather than we’re actually watching television. When that happens, we also see that the newscaster will introduce the type of the subject and then they switch to live captions and then nothing is captioned.

So, really, we’re only getting the topic of the news but not necessarily the subject material. How can we correct that problem? My second question is, we often find that in, well, especially in Cleveland, Ohio, we do not have movies that are captioned. Or are made available to the general public. What is your relationship with the movie industry? And it would seem that that should be an easier option to caption movies because movies are already completed and then, you can prerecord the captions. But they are not very widely available in most cities in the United States. How can we improve the relationship between the two?

MR. HUTCHINS: Just want to make sure. You mean movies shown in the movie theaters?

PARTICIPANT: Yes, correct.

MR. HUTCHINS: Not on – not only on television.


PARTICIPANT: I’ll take the first one. Tom will take the second part. On the first part of your question. What it sounds like is happening here in the local market is what they’re using to do the captions is a feed from the Teleprompter which is a script that the anchor person uses to read any old – you’ll see just the basics without any of the ad libbing they’re talking about back and forth and then when someone says ad libbing, they don’t have it on the computer, so they don’t have a person captioning or even remotely captioning. What’s that called? Electronic news, ENR, electronic newsroom. It’s using the scripts that everyone in the newsroom is using, it’s not an accurate transcription. The only way to get an accurate transcription is to have a stenocaptionist or anyone listening to the audio and transcribing it. Again, you have to complain to the local station and maybe they’ll change that. There are also FCC rules that mandate that the top 25 markets. I’m not sure, is it Cleveland?

PARTICIPANT: Yes, Cleveland.

MR. DUCKLER: They should be doing that. You of definitely want to complain to the station.

MR. APONE: And copy the FCC on your letters. In terms of movies and theatricals, the Media Access Group of WGBH has system called Rear Window captioning that is slowly being rolled out in – in theaters around the country, there are probably 50 or so theaters that have it. There are certainly open-captioned movies available at certain times in certain cities. But that has been a longstanding problem and something that we’ve been working on, a lot of companies have been working on to try and address. We believe that our Rear Window system is sort of catching on and starting to build up some momentum so maybe we’ll see some theaters in Cleveland in the not too distant future.

MR. HUTCHINS: We are going to take one more comment. A brief comment. I will point out that the movie theater technology is changing, as well and movie theaters are switching to a digital environment instead of film projected by light on to a screen. That way, it also changes the opportunity for movie theater captioning. Come on up.

PARTICIPANT: I haven’t met you yet.

PARTICIPANT: I’m June. I am June Leffler from the Buffalo, New York, area, consumer, deaf sons who have grown up with captions. Albeit they were 9 and 6 years old when it was first offered. And I was also with NCI as development coordinator for 10 years. My question involves both offline and real-time captioning. And it has to do with, obviously, growth of captioning, is going to depend on the captioner market that we have captioners. Available. Both real-time and offline captioners.

My question to both panels would be, what has been done to make the jobs more attractive competitively, salary-wise? Are both groups looking to possibly write grants to supplement salaries so that this field can be more competitive and we can attract the best candidates out there? And, that’s for whoever would like to answer, from either panel.

MR. APONE: Authority issues the earlier panel outlined. And Jack and Joe, feel free to jump in here. As big a problem – I mean, stenocaptioners, cart reporters are pretty well compensated, frankly, probably the best salary positions in the industry, certainly. That’s not to say we couldn’t do better with a little more enticements. But the fact is that for the last few years, this has not been viewed as a – as a viable career partly because of the specter of voice recognition putting stenocaptioners out of business. I started to caption the Senate 10 or 11 years ago and voice recognition was just around the corner. If you ask somebody today, it’s just around the corner, it’s five years and that’s always going to be the answer.

True voice recognition is going to take, artificial intelligence, in my humble opinion, the intelligence right now is sitting over in that chair and doing a great job translating my words into text. But it’s going to be a long, long time before a computer can do that, if ever. What we have to do is get the word out to the high schools and the colleges and places where people make decisions about careers, that court reporting and captioning are viable careers, and Mark, I know is working on that through NCRA and, as Kathy said, seeing captions is a great way to get that out there as a sort of a public relations tool.

MR. HUTCHINS: I’m going to kind of exercise my prerogative as moderator and say while I think it’s an important issue and we’ve talked about the training of captioners, as being an issue, there are – there are problems that we face as an industry that we cannot address today. We’ve talked about the failures of technology. This group can do little today to deal with that. Except acknowledge that those failures exist and look for ways to work together to solve them. And I think that this is another area where the question kind of goes beyond what this group today can consider. That doesn’t mean it’s ignored. I think it means that it has to be dealt with as an ongoing issue.

We can’t set salaries. We can’t – we have certain antitrust concerns that we must face as an industry. So, realistically, the captioners can’t get together. Legally, we cannot get together and talk about salaries. And, so I’m going to have to say that that is a question we cannot deal with today. But it does get to the training issue and it gets up – as Tom pointed to, the recruitment, going to the high schools and saying, there are going to be lots of jobs in the future for qualified people. And hope that the schools, the high schools and the colleges and the technical schools respond to that need. And perhaps we can get more into that this afternoon. So I would like to thank, well – I’ve got another comment.

MR. DUCKLER: One comment. I wanted to get back to the issue of who to complain to about quality. This wasn’t said. I – hopefully in the future, we aren’t going to need to complain about the quality if we all do what we said we were going to do today. But in the meantime, my only advice comes from, the FBI. Who hasn’t done such a great job, but one thing they’re right about is you follow the money. If you follow the money, you’re going to find the criminal. Follow the money and find out who’s paying for the work, and contact them, that is going to speak volumes.

I guarantee you, if you see a credit at the end, sponsored by so and so and you let them know that the quality was poor, if it was sponsored by the Department of Education, you’ll get a call in five minutes from Jo Ann McCann about the quality issue. Sorry, Jo Ann. But that’s just a small percentage of the stuff that’s captioned out there. You’ll see sponsorships. You’ll see sponsored by the network, paid for by whoever. It’s an excellent place to start. So we have that follow the money issue.

MR. HUTCHINS: I’d like to thank our panel of experts on offline captioning on their presentation, helping us to frame some of the issues. I’d like to thank our commenters. During the lunch period, we’re going to try to reduce the comments, the things we heard to several issues that we’re going to put on easels, on flip charts and afterwards, we’re going to ask you all to help us select where to focus our energies as a group. So, be thinking about that during lunch. It is exactly 12: 10. I believe lunch is being served directly out here. There’s a buffet lunch and another room where you can go and sit. Talk about these issues over lunch and please, so we don’t run too late tonight, let’s make lunch a 50-minute break rather than an hour. Let’s meet back here at exactly 1: 00, and we will start on time, with or without you.

MR. HUTCHINS: All right, folks, let’s take our seats. Hey, Heather, are you able to flip the lights there?

MS. YORK: I am.

MR. HUTCHINS: I don’t know how to do it.

MR. HUTCHINS: Okay, let’s take our seats, and we’re going to get started right now. Our interpreters are now standing on more solid ground than they were this morning, so hopefully you won’t see them disappear. We’re going to switch gears now a little bit from this morning’s presentations. And we’re going to try to begin to narrow our focus. This morning, we really had a sort of “anything goes” attitude. Now, there is a lot more to be said, and I’m sure that we have time in this afternoon’s session to say much of that. I had a few comments that I penciled in, things I want to talk about that might be educational to people.

But I think that right now, before we educate, let’s kind of take our temperature. Let’s figure out where we stand based on the information we shared this morning. So, the very next step is going to be, now that you all got up and stretched, we’re going to kind of ask you to do it again and maybe to be as organized and not kill each other as you can. At the back of the room, we have placed eight sheets of paper, and the five on my left pertain to the issues that were raised regarding offline captioning. Pre-recorded programming. What we have tried to list here are the problems that were identified, not just the issues, but to state those issues in the form of problems. There are quite a few problems that you have identified that have to do with offline captioning. There are also quite a few that you identified that pertain to live captioning, the three panels on my right.

We are going to try to begin to focus the early efforts of this group in terms of building a conference report by asking you to vote on which three things you find – all right, we’ll go for four. I’ve been overruled. And there’s a simple reason for it – we cut four dots on the string. We’re nothing, if not practical. And it just took longer to cut three strips of three. So, we didn’t do it. You’re going to vote, in each case, you’re going to put four dots on offline and four dots on live. Some of the issues pertain to both. For example, programs that have no captions, that is not a live or an offline issue. But you may feel that it’s more urgent in one area than another. So, Jo Ann and I are going to pass these things around.

Now, here’s the rules for voting, and this is very important. Consumers each get to vote – consumers will get red dots, and your red dots, which match your name badge, you can vote up to four times, four dots on offline and a separate four dots for live captioning as to which issues you personally feel are the most important problems that the industry faces. You can put all four dots on one issue, if you want. You can split them any way you want. The blue dots will be handed out to the captioning companies. Each captioning company has to designate one person to vote on their behalf. So, there will be many more red dots than blue.

The captioning companies will have to decide who for that company casts their four blue dots for offline and four blue dots for live. Is there anybody confused by this instruction? All right. Jo Ann and I are going to pass these dots around, and we would ask you to vote in the next 15 minutes. You can take your time and read the lists before you begin to vote. And then we’re going to move to the next – you know, we’ll flip the lights at the end when everybody has had a chance to vote, and we will begin the next part of the presentation. So, let us know whether you need red or blue dots.


MR. HUTCHINS: All right, can we resume, and we’re going to move to the next portion of the session. We’re ready to start gain. Okay. Now, one of the things – well, I can’t quite see because there are still some people standing at the back, but we’ll try to – I’ll admit right now that my eyesight is not good enough to read what the issues are from here. But I can tell you that standing way back here, it’s very clear which issues, and I don’t even know which they are from here, but it is very obvious where the preponderance of dots have gone, and it is also clear in some cases there’s a disconnect between the service providers and the consumers.

So, we are going to want to go back and collate that information, and I intend to – Jo Ann and I will be going back and making some notes on how you have cast your vote, but I do want to say a couple of things first. Several of you came up to me during this voting process and said, my issue isn’t there, why not? Well, there’s a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m not as smart as I pretend I am. And so, I forget things. And so, it may be that there was some issue that got discussed that we didn’t think to reduce to a bullet point. There’s also a fact that we tried to put some of the issues together under one umbrella, and identify it a particular way.

Mitch pointed out to me an issue that he was concerned about, which was standards, and the fact that there are no standards, and my response to Mitch, and to this group would be that I think that’s what this entire conference is about, is determining whether there is a problem in captioning. If everybody says, you know, there really isn’t, we’re happy with the quality of captioning and we don’t think it’s getting worse, and maybe it’s even getting better, so there’s no issue. If there’s no issue, there’s no need for standards, but if there is an issue, and I’m looking here at the way dots have gotten placed, and I suspect we’re all going to agree before the day is over that we do face issues, problems, one of the ways to address those problems is to work together to develop standards.

In other words, I think that not having standards is not the problem. The problems lie elsewhere, and the solutions may lie in the development to get working together on standards. And so, I did not put standardization down as a problem or the lack thereof, because I think that is the central issue, that, in fact, we can’t even say, we can’t even define what might be wrong, because there are no standards against which to measure the quality of captioning. And so, when one company looks at another company’s captions, they might say, gee, they’re not as good as mine.

Well, that’s a very subjective issue. That is, until we have some quantifiable criteria that we can agree. I mean, misspelling a word, I think everyone in the room would agree, a word that’s on the screen but is spelled wrong is just no way around it, that’s a mistake. But when you get into some of the issues that the panelists were talking about today, it becomes far more subjective. It is harder to say, for example whether upper and lower case captioning is a mistake or a deliberate expression of a captioning philosophy. Also, another issue that was brought to my attention that was not up for the vote was the lack of Spanish language captioning. And again, I would say that that was a deliberate omission because of two things. Number one, there are not enough Hispanic consumers in the room to make that a meaningful vote. If we – if we –

PARTICIPANT: I disagree with that.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think there are only three or four in the room. So, it would not be fair to say that Spanish captioning is not a concern because there were only three or four votes for it. In other words, I think Spanish captioning is a concern, and by voting on it among people who generally don’t watch Spanish captioning, we would tend to minimize that problem. I think it is a problem. And this is not the forum in which to deal with quantity issues. This is the forum in which we’re dealing with quality issues. And I believe that the same issues that affect the quality of English captioning will affect the quality of Spanish captioning. A misspelled word is a misspelled word, and it’s a mistake whether it’s in English or Spanish. Missing captions, poorly designed captions, unreadable captions affect all consumers, not just those watching, reading English or Spanish.

I did not want to reduce Spanish to just a single issue where we say, is there enough? Because I don’t think that is the issue. We know there’s not enough, and we know it’s going to increase, and in fact, the Department of Education has been putting out regularly for the past two or three years grants that encourage companies to bring Spanish captioning to the fore. So, now, there may be other issues that you have not identified to me that you felt belonged back there. This is your chance now to talk about what do you think about this process?


MR. HUTCHINS: This is John Lopez. He is concerned about Spanish language captioning, and he was one of the people that approached me on that issue.

PARTICIPANT: The rhetoric is – I mean, can be interpreted in so many different ways, and it’s not fair that, you know, I guess I’m filing a complaint here that we have so many white people here and not enough Spanish people.

MR. HUTCHINS: Well, that’s a good point, and maybe we as a group, if we move –

PARTICIPANT: I was just saying that I could file a complaint that we didn’t invite enough. We have a commitment that we will listen to that problem here whether it’s one person that votes for it or not. Just from experience, you know, that, oh, that’s not an important issue because it doesn’t pertain to us.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think we’ve said that Spanish language captioning is an important issue and we acknowledge there is not enough of it, that it needs to improve, but that’s a quantity issue, and when it gets to the quality of Spanish captions, if there are issues of Spanish quality, that are different than English quality, then that’s important to know about. I would also say that if we decide as a group to go beyond today and have more meetings and more opportunity to share information, that it would be important for us to try to increase the participation of Hispanic consumers. So, but let me – actually, that’s a good way for me to talk about how you got here today. How did we select who is in the room? And I’ll come to you in a moment.

PARTICIPANT: Please, come to me now. I’m leaving. Mr. Lopez needs an apology. I would like to see that happen here.

MR. HUTCHINS: Well, he’s not going to get an apology, because he is going to get an explanation. Hopefully, after I give the explanation, you’ll agree with me. Here is how the consumers were selected today. I did not select them personally. They were – first of all, the first invitations went to service providers. Service providers were told that a conference is going to happen. They were then encouraged – every company that is here today was encouraged to bring with them any consumers who advise those companies.

We did have discussions, and by “we,” I’m talking about Jo Ann McCann and myself, about just how to open the forum up to consumers. There were so many problems in putting this conference together in what was really a short amount of time, and with no sponsoring organization. Keep in mind, I work alone. I work at home. And I did all of the work for this conference by myself, with some – a little assistance, and in just a few months. It was not possible for me to go out and identify all the consumer organizations. Now, there are Hispanic consumers who were invited by their sponsoring companies to be here who couldn’t make it. But I don’t have anything to do with the makeup of the consumer advisory panels for each of the companies represented in this room. Those companies make up their own advisory panels.

The only consumers in the room today are consumers who are part of a formal advisory panel to an existing captioning company. No other consumers were invited because it was felt that if we began to invite unaffiliated consumers, we would necessarily be making mistakes. There was no way around it. There are, I’m told, 500 organizations in this country of deaf consumers and hard-of-hearing consumers and late-deafened consumers and cochlear-implanted consumers and deaf-blind consumers and many, many others. There are 500 organizations. I did not have the opportunity or the time or the resources to invite every consumer organization to send somebody and, if I began to invite some organizations, I would run the risk, and Jo Ann agreed, we would run the risk of alienating some consumer groups, and so for this first time out, and this is the first time out, we have asked companies to invite their consumer advisers to be here, and in that way, Jo Ann and I had nothing to do with selecting who is in this room.

We sent invitations to every company that we knew that existed. In many cases we were informed of other companies we did not know, and we sent invitations to those companies. Every company was asked and encouraged to bring consumers to this meeting. Many companies did. Not all companies had the resources that allowed them to do that. The consumers who are here represent the companies and were chosen by the companies that are in this room, and it is not a matter of this conference having selected who would be in the room. I can’t state it any more plainly than that. I don’t believe I owe anyone an apology.

If there has to be better representation of Hispanics or Asian communities, or any other group, I think it is incumbent upon the organizations here, not because – there is no sponsor. There is no organization. This is not a conference run by the U.S. Department of Education. It is not run by any one company. There is no trade association. It is run by me and Jo Ann. And simply putting our efforts into it because we believe that captioning quality is an issue that has to be addressed and it has to start somewhere, and this is that somewhere. I don’t apologize. I’m sorry, Jo Ann, I realize you’re unhappy.

PARTICIPANT: Please, don’t apologize to me. OK? I’m not the one that is entitled -

MR. HUTCHINS: You said you felt I needed to apologize.

PARTICIPANT: I will not accept your apology.

MR. HUTCHINS: Fine. Let’s move on, if we can. I think I’ve explained how the group was constituted today, and hopefully most of you are satisfied. Those who aren’t, I would certainly welcome – you have my E-mail address, you have Jo Ann’s, please let me know your feelings, how we might improve this organization, if we go forward, how we could improve it the next time. That’s the best I can do. And I do acknowledge that we need better representation of Hispanic consumers. And perhaps other groups, as well.

And I just hope that we will all be able to respond to that in the future. Now, the next session here, the next opportunity, I would like to give all of the caption service providers an opportunity to comment on what you’ve seen in the back, and I don’t – I’m not going to go in any particular order, but perhaps a good place to start is – because I want to go back and look at how the votes were cast and be able to respond to that. A good place to start would be to ask Traci Randolph from the FCC to come up and see how she intends to make use of the information, and she has some suggestions for you as to how you folks can proceed from today with the issues that are on your minds. Traci?

MS. RANDOLPH: I was in mid-sip of water when you said that. I’ll set that down. At least I wasn’t on my way to the restroom. It would have been much worse. I made a couple of notes so I hopefully wouldn’t forget what I forgot to say this morning. One side note, not as an FCC note, but as an interpreter, several times this morning – the issue of finding qualified captioners is obviously a huge problem. It is the same problem that the interpreting field has faced for many, many years. It is just a suggestion that maybe NCRA or someone could contact the national registry for interpreters and see if they have ideas, rather than reinvent the wheel. It has been a huge issue in our field. It is still an issue, but it has improved over the years.

When the ADA was passed and started going into effect, they wanted us to grow on trees. We just weren’t there. So, that situation has improved slightly, so maybe that might be a good place to look. Now, back to my other hat of the FCC. Several of you have asked for business cards. I don’t have them. Remember, I work for the government. A request was made – my request was processed – I should say my request was submitted about two months ago. The problem is, they will probably be on my desk monday, because that’s the way things go. I don’t have them. I’m sorry. My contact information, however, is in your packet under the FCC. So, please contact me. I’d be happy to answer any questions that you have, and there are several people that have said, “E-mail that to me.” And I promise you I will respond.

Now I have a face to go with the name, I’m held accountable for what you might contact me for. In regards to – Claude brought up a very good issue. He’s not the only one that brought it up, but specifically it triggered something about our informal complaint process and individuals contacting – what we have is a “call center” who handles all calls, calling for wireless complaints on your cell phone or captioning, and they are a totally different area, physically, a physical location, than the disability rights offices, so sometimes issues that come up with them, we’re not aware of. And that is a very good issue that I have written down and done lots of stuff today, I’m getting carpal tunnel problems from writing down so much stuff, but I will take that back, because that is something that can be dealt with because it is an education issue, for example, just being sent the law in the mail when you actually had a complaint, that type of situation is something that can be – can be dealt with, so I just want you to know that I have written that down, and that will go back. We do work in the same bureau. Maybe something can be done about that.

Also in regards to complaints, informal complaints, as I said, this is not an open proceeding, so there’s no call right now for comments, there’s nothing like that going on. That doesn’t mean you cannot make a comment or you cannot file a complaint. Any of you are considered consumers, captioning, the moment you turn on captioning. You don’t have to be deaf and hard-of-hearing. A lot of people don’t think about it that way. You’re a consumer immediately. Please, please send in comments. And informal complaints, whether it be to the address that’s on our Web site, on <http: //>, and the actual address is Send them to me. Send them to me. Send them to somebody. Do whatever you want, but get them in, because we don’t get as many complaints in writing as we need.

Other issues that the FCC deals with get tens of thousands of comments and complaints per month. And that’s what you’re seeing – that’s what is being dealt with right now. That’s what the FCC is dealing with. So, when the disability rights office, when we want to say, hey, let’s go back and visit XYZ issue on captioning, was there a problem? Yes! How do we know that? Because the deaf person at the grocery store the other day told me. There’s a lot of anecdotal stuff going on and not enough in writing, and we need numbers. We really, really, really need numbers.

So, as insignificant as it might seem, it really, really helps us, and it obviously puts the burden on the consumer, but that’s what’s going to get something started, and Mr. O’Keeffe came up to me and said, it’s true, it’s a testament, it actually does work, the process does work in regards to the situation he brought up earlier in the emergency captioning, captioning of emergency information, public notice went out to remind folks of their responsibilities, so the process does work, and believe it or not, we read every single complaint and comment that comes in. It’s hard to believe, but we really, really do. So, let me look and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. No. I think that’s it, so, thank you, again. Yes? Is it OK if somebody asks me a question?


MS. RANDOLPH: You can ask a question.

PARTICIPANT: Your E-mail address? Do you have it on your Web site?

MS. RANDOLPH: I’m sorry? Yes, it would be an issue just because I’m not the person who, in theory, deals with complaints. What I would do is then field it so the general – what’s supposed to happen is that the general Web site, pardon me, E-mail address that everything is sent to, everything is supposed to come into that central pool and then sent out, divided up amongst the different offices that deal with what – that was a horrible English sentence, I’m really sorry for the way that just came out.

But I wouldn’t necessarily want my E-mail address posted as the place to contact. Let’s see, the best way to do that? I would say disability rights office, which is also in there. I would say use that. Use that phone number or just the fccinfo@FCC.Gov. The access was taken away from us. That’s a problem. We know it’s a problem. It’s been brought to our attention that it is a problem, and we would really like to have it come back. So, hopefully it will come back. Because that was a much better solution. Okay, FCC.Gov. That’s the E-mail address for any type of complaint or comment on any issue, and then in theory they are funneled to the appropriate person. Thanks.

PARTICIPANT: Should we put something in the subject line that says, you know, closed captioning complaint?

MS. RANDOLPH: Absolutely. That would be really helpful. The more information you can give us, the better. If it was a specific television program on a specific station, from a specific station, anything that you can give, anything you can give is better. The more information, the better, obviously. And then also contacting the station. Granted, I know there are issues with that, but still, it helps. Thanks.

PARTICIPANT: The mailing address again, please?

MS. RANDOLPH: E-mail address again, fccinfo@FCC.Gov. Got it?

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you very much, traci. I’ve gone through the votes at the back, and, as I said, there is some disconnect between what consumers perceive and what the industry service providers perceive as the problems. But overall it is pretty interesting how it seems to intersect, and the top vote getters on live, the three issues that you have identified as most important affecting live quality are, first of all, the lack of captions on special reports. That is a quality issue. In general, I would say lack of captioning is a quantity issue. But there are many reasons why special reports are a different category. And I think that as a group, it may be something that we have to recognize is of grave concern, particularly to consumers, but even the service providers gave it a very important rating.

And so, certainly we’re going to want to deal as a group, if we go forward with how do we promote more captioning of special reports. The second issue on live was the need for standard operating procedures among the agencies and the broadcasters. And that gets to the issue that Mitch has raised, which is standardization. It certainly opens the door to the fact that standardization may be needed, may be desired. But I’ll emphasize “may” because I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but it says that this is something we have to look at. And then the third most important – or, sorry, most frequently voted upon issue was the shortage of skilled court reporter captioners, the kind of people who are doing the real-time here today. And interestingly, both consumers and service providers recognize this as a critical issue. On the offline side, there were more issues, and therefore, of course, a little bit more division as to what was considered important. But the number one thing, by far, was to have a single point of contact. And that gets right to what traci was just saying.

People are concerned about how to complain when something is wrong. If you complain to your local station, does it get heard? Very frequently, as Claude pointed out, you don’t get a response. You don’t know whether your complaint has been heard. If you go to the captioning company, you may get a response, hopefully you do, but the captioning company has limited capital with the – with its clients. For a captioning company to say, well, we heard from consumers they’re not happy with the captioning that we did for you, obviously a difficult thing for many companies to do, and they’re not necessarily likely to do it honestly, and so, there’s a problem there. Or if the captioning company goes to the client and says, consumers are mad because you didn’t caption that show, it sounds very self-serving. We want to caption it for you because consumers are complaining that that show wasn’t captioned.

So, a single point of contact, and I would emphasize perhaps what we’re really talking about is an independent point of contact. Someone who does not necessarily have a vested interest, but who has a global interest in protecting consumers and in serving the service providers and broadcasters equally. And then monitoring was identified nearly as important an issue. The ongoing monitoring of captioning quality, and I think that this is almost the same thing as the single point of contact, at least in terms of its solution.

Because who’s going to monitor? I mean, is Vitac going to monitor a network for which they provide no captions? It’s not going to happen. Is NCI going to monitor the captions produced by somebody else? Not easily. And so, again, independent monitoring might be the solution. And then the third most common is almost a toss-up, the third most important issue that you identify relates very closely to the live side, finding and training good captioners. So, there is a concern about the quality of the people who perform this work. And very closely behind that, almost tied, was the timing of captions. People are concerned that captioned timing, especially on pre-recorded shows, timing could mean many things. It could mean the captions are too fast to be read, it could mean they’re not properly syncronized with the audio, but in some fashion, timing is seen by you folks as a concern. A quality concern. Beyond that, there really – the votes are spread on both things pretty widely across. Jay, did you have a comment?

PARTICIPANT: Well, there might be some confusion. You’re talking about the ongoing monitoring of broadcast, free delivery. Number two, right? The ongoing monitoring of broadcasts. I was thinking that that was an issue of – like when we talked about earlier, whether they change the script at the end, rather than monitoring of – so, I’m not sure how you want to address that issue.

MR. HUTCHINS: I see your point, and there’s a couple of ways to interpret that. Maybe that’s something we’ll have to resolve in further discussions, as to just where do the problems lie. I would like to move ahead, so we don’t get too far behind here. The next session of this conference, I’d like to invite the service providers now, those who wish to talk, and I want to give each service provider a maximum of five minutes. No, you can’t buy more time from somebody else. Each service provider one five-minute session to respond to anything, talk about the vote, talk about where they think issues that may not have been identified lie.

And I would also ask you to do one other thing with your five minutes. Those companies who have consumers here, and who have multiple employees here, would you please just introduce your contingent and give us their names. We want to make sure there are people here who are visually impaired who may not have had the opportunity to read a list of the names and might enjoy hearing a vocal list of the attendees, and it’s best to come from you instead of from me. When your name is called, would you please stand and wave so people know who you are. I don’t see anyone racing to the microphone. Deborah Schuster with CCS is going to be our first company speaker.

MS. SCHUSTER: I’m Deborah Schuster from Closed Captioning Services. I’m vice president and general manager, and as I mentioned earlier, and as Jeff said, as a negative actually, that I’ve been with more captioning companies than anyone else.

MR. HUTCHINS: No, it’s a positive.

MS. SCHUSTER: Okay, it’s a positive. I’ve had the opportunity to work with this group for a very long time. I think the consumers are fortunate to have this committed group of people. There are a lot of people in this room who have been doing this for many, many years, and who are all interested in providing the best quality that we can. Rick Leet is the president of our company, in the back. And Jim House from TDI, who is on our consumer advisory panel, and I just want to take a couple of comments, because I’m probably halfway through my time anyway. We are one of the smaller companies. We’re growing.

We’re working very hard to produce captions that meet, I think what we all kind of know we feel are the industry standards in terms of accuracy and good timing and reliability and all of that, and we’re happy to be here today, and we support the industry in any way that makes sense for us to work as a group to improve the quality of our products. That said, at the end of the day, much of how we’re able to do what we do is impacted by economic realities. That can only be addressed to individual companies. So, even though we have this meeting today and perhaps have meetings in the future to try to define some standards and some ways to deal with it, each company ultimately is going to be responsible for going back and running its own business in the best way that it can.

And because of some of the economic factors that have been mentioned this morning, there are a lot of issues that impact the quality of the captions. There are less reviews. There is a labor shortage. And each company is going to have to deal with that individually. We encourage all of you, consumers and everyone else in this room, to give us feedback about our captions when you see them on the air. And I also want to just reiterate what’s been said several times today, which is that as consumers, you’re responding to the people who are buying the service is one of the most powerful things that can happen.

Because ultimately a lot of the change that could happen would happen through that process. Every single caption company in this room has discussed quality issues with the clients, be they the networks, the cable companies, the producer, every company is asked to get a tape a week before broadcast instead of the day before broadcast. So, if you will continue to have the patience to voice your concerns, we will help you determine who the right people are to get those concerns to, so that will help. Do I have any time left?

MR. HUTCHINS: Yeah, you have about two minutes.

MS. SCHUSTER: Really? Then I apologize to whoever is writing this. Sorry, Kathy. I’m going to turn my last couple of minutes over to Jim House, who is new to our company and who we’ve enjoyed being with for the past couple of days and let him, from a consumer standpoint, pipe up and say anything else he feels is important.

PARTICIPANT: From the consumer’s point of view, I noticed a lot of red dots on the posters in the back, and I see there are some places where those of you who are members of consumer organizations like TDI, SHHH, ALDA, and you should use those groups and ask them to help pass on information, forward complaints to the right people, and also inform people about issues, for example, with TDI you might be able to contact the right people and use the membership of your organization, those who are dues-paying members, to become involved in this.

And also keep alert, keep awake, because things change. Learn as much as you can about the industry. Try to understand and work with the captioning industry as an ally working together. We don’t pay them, but we should work with them and not against them. So, it’s nice to see you, and I hope to see you again later.

MR. HUTCHINS: Okay. Who’s next? Sure, come on up.

MS. GAZELEY: My name is Carolyn Gazeley, and I’m the general manager for LSN Captioning. We’re in Portland, Oregon. We do both offline and real-time captioning. And today I’m here with Carol Studenmund, who is our president and founder, also our consumers, David Viers, Mitch Turbin, and Jo Ann Ulrich. And I really appreciate especially our consumers taking the time out of their lives to be here, because that cross-pollination is really important. We suggest that there is a framework of casting some of this in. We have issues that affect quality, that go across quite a bit of the different parts of our business, including staffing and training positions. You can’t do a good job captioning if your captioners don’t know what they’re doing, aren’t well-read, don’t understand much about the world, don’t understanded English language or the Spanish language or whatever they’re doing, specialized language of a particular video or program.

So, the whole area of training seems to me, and certification, which would be helpful to allow us to know what the standard is that’s being met. That seems like one whole area for potential emphasis. There’s also then standards of – delivered standards that could be independently monitored, or even monitored by consumers in their own homes, that if we could articulate and hold ourselves and be held to, that would be helpful, and there are slightly different standards for real-time and offline, things like accuracy, placement, in and out timing when you’re coming into programs, stuff like that. There’s also style issues. We talked about them a little bit. And those aren’t necessarily delivered service standards, but just agreements about how we will do stuff together.

And it seems to me like there are probably very few style issues that directly impact consumers’ ability to read and digest and understand captions, and if we could identify them using research, and focus on them as an industry, and not be hassling each other about the little style issues, but really zero in on the things that make a difference to people and their comprehension, that would be a worthwhile place to put some effort. Also, we talked a lot about the consumer complaint process, and that is such a frustrating thing for consumers. As one, we feel so unpowerful. We feel like nobody listens, and like what we do doesn’t necessarily matter, but I hear every time I go into an affiliate station office that they do actually hear and listen and they tell us whether they’ve heard from consumers. So, that role is really important in helping consumers know how to be active and encouraging that is really important.

The partners that captioning companies have to work with in terms of broadcasters, program developers, affiliates, networks, there is a whole bunch of stuff that relates to those relationships and how we need to cooperate and enable good captions to come through to the consumer that we might as a group eventually want to tackle. And finally, I heard a need for some coming-together about what are the research topics that would make us better able to deliver good, quality captions that people could respond to and use. So, those are my takes on this right now.

I know that a competitive industry doesn’t necessarily guarantee good quality. Especially when the person who pays is not the person who consumes the service. And that is one of the most troubling things about the way our industry is set up today, because there’s no built-in, quick feedback mechanism to the bad providers. It has to trickle down through and has to come back up through a very diffused process, because we have someone over here paying the bills and someone over there who desperately wants the good services, and that’s something that I think we really need to keep our eye on, because a lot of times we want market forces to take care of things that they can’t take care of, and this is one of those times. That’s all I have to say.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you, Carolyn.

MS. HORN: Hello, Donna Horn, vice president of sales to CaptionMax. Representing CaptionMax today is Max Duckler, of course, president. Gerald Freda, vice president of technology, and Derek Hines, vice president of marketing and corporate communications. We are proud to have members of our advisory panel here who help us constantly throughout the whole year giving us feedback and terrific suggestions, and we have Elaine Dechter and Willis Mann, Steve Weiner, and Jay Wyant. So, thank you. Thank you for coming. CaptionMax holds to the original precepts of captioning, from the beginning days, and we believe that we are here to give deaf and hard-of-hearing people what hearing people get. So, for us, there’s never an issue of censorship. If a hearing person receives that information, then it’s up to us to give that information to a deaf person.

We believe in no interpretation. We will give the words as they are spoken, as they are heard in a hearing world, that’s the way we’re going to present the words and captions will not interpret them. We believe in crafting and providing clear, accurate, comprehensible captions. Informational captions. Providing special cueing to the deaf and hard-of-hearing viewer whenever possible. And I believe that most of the caption companies here feel the same way. The issues that we encounter are challenges, many of which have already been spoken about today.

One Carolyn just talked about was – is the fact that we provide a service to a company who is not the end user. The person who is paying the bills is not necessarily the person using the captions, and that is an enormous problem for us. And those of us who are in sales and marketing, we’re up against it all the time. Very often, they are looking at the bottom line, the budget, how does it fit into the budget? Where can they cut? Where can they shave? Captioning might be that place. I believe it’s up to the captioning company to constantly remind the client about who the end user is and to talk about the deaf and hard-of-hearing people, why captioning is so important, and that is something we need to do repeatedly.

Another point that’s been brought up is the alarming decrease in rates for captioning. We all expected that there would be a drop in the rates when the FCC bench – when we started to hit those FCC benchmarks, because companies would be looking for packaged rates and specific vendors and getting the best price possible, but I don’t think any of us expected that we would find ourselves bidding on work for a network during an E-auction, online E-auction, companies sign on and the lowest bid wins. Nothing else is considered. It’s the lowest bid wins. None of us expected that. So, this is one of our great challenges.

Again, I feel that we have to keep reminding our clients, the broadcasters, the program providers, who the end user is. Deadlines are tighter, pre-scripted materials are scarcer. Caption vendors are seen mostly as just another function of post-production. This is good in some ways, because we’ve finally made it to the place where we are a line item in the budget. We used to cry for that. We used to say, please, just put us in the budget. Put a line item for captioning in the budget. The FCC benchmarks have helped that, because now we do make it to the budget often. Not always, but often. And that’s a good thing. But on the other hand, just as a function of post-production, we find that that sense of loyalty is not there in the same way it was before when we all felt that, you know, this was an important issue, this is a mission, this is accessibility. This could be life and death.

MR. HUTCHINS: 30 seconds.

MS. HORN: Okay, I have to finish up. So, I guess our position at CaptionMax is we want to continue to provide clear, accurate, easy-to read captions. We are in touch with the clients we are in touch with the broadcasters. We need to get back – with all the new technology that we’re working with, we need to get back to some of the older ways and just keep telling that client who the end user is. And they need to hear from you, as well.

MR. HUTCHINS: Jack? Do you want to come next?

MR. GATES: Thank you. If I may, I’d like to impose on our advisory committee members. If you wouldn’t mind standing, I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the place. Anybody at NCI, advisory panel. Terri Lozano. Tom Cooney. John Lopez. Richardo. Alan Hurwitz, and June Leffler. And in the back, Richard. I’m sorry, Anita. And the other gentleman. Hi, John. Sorry. For those of you who know me, you know I’m a fairly modest guy. But I want to step out of that role for just a second and tell you that I have absolutely the best job in the entire world. Bar none.

And the reason that I say that is that in coming to this meeting, I have folks who come up and talk to me and say, you know, what you’re doing really makes a difference, thank you. I’m surrounded by people that are mission driven. They’re doing captioning because they believe in what they’re doing and the effect of it. It makes a difference. It makes a difference in everyone’s lives. And we saw that a year ago on the 11th, and we see that every single day. So, I’ve got just an absolutely wonderful job. And I appreciate being in this role.

Now, having said that, looking at quality, we’ve got some issues that have been identified by the dots back there. We’ve got some labor issues. Those are solvable. We’ve got some quality issues of different approaches to things. Or perhaps different levels of training or different levels of preparation. Those are solvable. What we’ve also got, and it’s embodied in this room, which started from a single conversation, is that we’ve got virtually all of the stakeholders that have something to do with captioning in the same room. We’ve got competitors that fight fiercely in the marketplace in order to gain work that are talking here about how can we collectively as an industry – captioning is an industry – how can we do this better? And it’s not, how can we do this better so that we can line our pockets, so that we can get something into – oh, well – but how can we do this better because of the end user? Because of the person that benefits from it? We’ve got some issues that we need to look at, some of which are – well, what is quality? Well, that’s a big question. But how do we measure it?

Quality is kind of like art. You know you like art when you see something that you like, but how do you quantify it? Well, standards typically are quantifiable in some fashion, so when I’m looking at captions, and I don’t see a comma where it should be, is that something that’s affecting quality? Well, from a perfectionist standpoint, yes. From an overall standpoint, well, maybe. Maybe not. The other thing that we’ve got is education. What we don’t have in the room at this stage, and I think if this continues, this effort continues to go forward, is the broadcasters, the cablecasters, the folks who are doing the delivery, and there’s some education that’s needed there.

We can help with that. We can help with that. We can help it from the consumer standpoint. We can also help from the broadcaster, the delivery system. But here’s the technology side. And sometimes it’s as simple as, turn on the switch. Well, maybe not quite that simple. But I think – before Jeff tells me that I’ve only got 30 seconds and I get flustered –

MR. HUTCHINS: You only got 30 seconds.

MR. GATES: But I’m not flustered. The overall point that I want to make is together we can continue to make this better. We as individual providers can do things within our means, which may be very small, may be very large, to educate and to help, and as a group, stakeholders, we can definitely continue to incrementally make things better. An incremental improvement will always get close to perfection, and hopefully we can get within an arm’s reach of that. So, thank you very much.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re going to take a break shortly, but why don’t we have one more company come up, and then we will continue these presentations after the break, and it may give some of the companies – I know how shy some of you are. So, it might give some of you an opportunity to just think a little bit – take five more minutes about what you wish to say. Ann?

MS. SCHULMAN: Thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: Lead us into the break.

MS. SCHULMAN: My name is Ann Schulman. I am one of the owners of Caption Services of Kansas. Kala Patterson is my business partner, and we will each talk for two minutes. We are located in Lawrence, Kansas. We provide both offline and real-time captioning services, so we have kind of some – we’re kind of stakeholders in all of this. We are just thrilled to be here. And we are so thankful for Jo Ann and Jeff organizing this.

We have just a couple things in response to what’s gone on, what the discussion has been on the captioning today. We have a couple comments about quality. And I’m not making excuses for anybody. I mean, we all produce really great-quality work, and every once in a while, we have something that maybe doesn’t look quite like we like it. Some of what we see on television, we want you to know at least from our perspective is not always driven by the captioning company. Sometimes a client who is paying the bill on a pre-produced video has a specific request or demand as far as how the work should be done. I can give you a quick example. We recently did a video that included a lot of Native American music, Native American language. The request on our part was, of course, the expectation was that we would caption that based on the language. The language would be captioned. They insisted that it be translated into English. After a very lengthy discussion and explaining about industry standards, et cetera, et cetera, the client was insistent. The client pays the bill, it is the client’s video, and if we don’t do it, the client will go down the road and find somebody else. We do an excellent job, it is high quality, but what you see as a consumer, it is not always 100% of the time the choice of the provider. The client pays the bill and drives the project to some extent. The other area, and we talk about quality, we know, and I don’t know if it’s like this everywhere, but we live in the Kansas City area, and there are many production houses, video production houses that now also do captioning. These are people who are trained and experienced and excellent video producers. They are not captioners. They do it for their clients, and it’s oftentimes a convenience and a service they offer, however, again, what you see on your video, on your television screen is not always the product of professional captioners and captioning companies.

Your single point of contact is extremely important, and then I’m finishing and letting Kala come up here. But, you know, I would tell you that our experience here shows that you need to be very careful that you’re giving positive, as well as negative feedback to your television stations. If you are in a market for real-time, for example, that is not in the top 25 Neilsen markets and the station is providing real-time because they want to, not because they have to, if they are inundated with complaints about there’s not enough captioning for emergencies and there’s not enough captioning here, the provider will start to regret their decision to provide the real-time service. It’s a real possibility. So, there’s a way to approach that. It’s important to have feedback, but please, always remember how important the positive feedback is, as well. Turn it over to Kala.

MR. HUTCHINS: Kala, you got about a minute and a half.

MS. PATTERSON: I got to talk really fast. That’s right. That’s right. One of the main challenges that we face is pertaining specifically to the number one goal or issue raised in real-time, is the lack of captioning for special reports, specifically in the area of electronic newsroom captioning, so to speak, and emergencies. And one of the most important issues as we see it is that we need to make every effort as a captioning industry and consumers to have electronic newsroom feed not called closed captioning, not count it as closed captioning, where it cannot be sold as a closed captioning sponsorship. It is a very – not only is there not an incentive for companies and stations to provide real-time closed captioning of their news, it is almost a disincentive, because they can sell electronic newsroom feed as real-time closed captioning, and then they pocket it because it doesn’t cost them a thing – because it doesn’t cost them a thing to put it over the air. They put those dollars in their pockets.

They have no incentive, in fact, a disincentive to hire real-time captioners to provide the service that you all are asking for. Which is the real-time captioning of the product. We would very much like to see petition for rulemaking with the FCC to disallow electronic newsroom as being counted. In addition to that, it is hard for companies who are taking in that money and using it and they have agreements with those companies to put its sponsorship tag on it. It is even hard for them when we have the opportunity to provide them with grant funding captioning. They often cannot take advantage of it.

We would really like to see that particular issue addressed, and, of course, it is an incomplete accommodation with electronic newsroom, and the timing is never as it should be. They also say that they don’t want to start providing something they can’t continue, which means that if they could not count electronic newsroom as captioning, they would have to make it a sales priority, and try to secure the sponsorship if they choose to secure sponsorship for that service. As far as the emergencies, I wanted to make two quick comments. We do provide emergency captioning. We are on call for emergency captioning for our clients at no cost. We have employees on stand-by to do emergency captioning, yet we are not often called to do emergency captioning because the stations don’t want to pay the cost associated with going on the air for that.

There again, you know, some of that can be addressed through your consumer comments to stations, please do captioning of the emergency broadcasts. Also, the last final point is, there are many, many stations in this country who are not equipped to handle real-time captioning. When September 11th happened last year, we E-mailed every station we’ve ever been in touch with and offered our services, as we felt we should. Many of those stations E-mailed back and said, we would love to put you on the air, but we don’t have any equipment in place to handle real-time captioning, and that, I think, is also another major issue. So, we just wanted you to be aware of some of the challenges and obstacles that we do face as captioning companies in the market, as we see it today. Thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you, Kala. We’re going to take a five-minute break. That’s enough time to get up, stretch, get something to drink and come right back, because we are running a little bit behind now. Let’s take a five-minute break.


MR. HUTCHINS: We’re going to get started again, if you can all be seated, please. We’re ready to start. I’m just going to make an announcement. It looks like everyone is coming in. There’s a couple of things I’d like to begin with before we invite the next speaker, next company to come up and speak to us. Just a couple of little bits of business that we have to conduct here. While you were voting, you may have noticed when you came back to your seat that there was a small blue dot with a number on it. Those are going to be – do you remember in school when you picked sides and it was count off, one, two, three? Well, we’re going to break into five small groups a little bit later, and that number tells you what group you will be in. And there’s going to be five groups of approximately 14 or 15 people in each group. And we want a mixture of consumers and service priders in each group, and so that’s why we did the dots at each place, and if you can’t find the dot, just pick a group.

I also want to say one important thing that I kind of failed to say earlier as I recounted the voting. One of the things that got the – didn’t win as one of the most important issues was on the live side, poor quality – or poor accuracy of the captions. And that’s very interesting to me, because while there may be issues of accuracy that we face, neither consumers nor service providers identified the accuracy as one of the top issues to be addressed. And that might be a good thing. That may say to us that overall we’re not doing too bad a job in the quality of captioning that we create, but the real problem is in the quality of the captions we deliver. And there’s a difference, because there are delivery issues.

And I just wanted to point out that we are not talking about that as one of the top issues, and that is something of a surprise to me. I also want to make one other small announcement. The binder, the folders you all got at your place, and some of you didn’t get them, if anyone has an extra one, there are one or two people who didn’t get them, there should be enough for everyone in the room. The binders that you got are the only conference, formal conference materials handed out. Any other materials that have been placed at your table or out in the hall are – there’s one extra one from Alan. Maybe we can pass that up here to Donna.

Any other materials that you have gotten, we’re very glad you have. Several consumer groups and several others have – we have one extra book here if anyone needs it. We’ll hold it for now. Jo Ann is going to get that in case someone asks for one later. Any other materials, we’re very glad that you’ve been given. We’re very glad for consumer organizations and service providers who have distributed informational materials, but I just want to make it clear that those other materials are from other individual companies and are not a formal part of these proceedings. And having made those announcements, Jo Ann, did you have anything you needed to add? Who would like to – we’d like to wrap up the presentation portion. Joe Karlovits and Tom Apone. Tom is standing already. So, why don’t we start with tom, and Joe, do you want to go after tom? We will move on to the next part of the meeting.

MR. APONE: Hi, folks. Tom Apone from the Media Access Group of WGBH. We met earlier. Introducing the group who has come with us to the meeting here, Lori Kay is our director, Media Access Group in Boston. And Helen Fleming has joined us from the Boston SHHH chapter. Claude Stout from TDI. The Media Access Group grew out of the Caption Center that started about 30 years ago at WGBH. You know us as the Caption Center from years ago. We evolved and took on our new name a few years ago to recognize the importance of some other things that were happening. As you heard me talk about offline captioning this morning, we also do a lot of real-time captioning, but we have a department now that does descriptive video services for blind and visually impaired audiences. We have a group called the National Center for Accessible Media that does a lot of R&D for us. They are the folks who helped develop the Rear Window captioning device that is now becoming popular. I mentioned that earlier.

So, together, these three departments – caption, description and NCAM – make up the Media Access Group, and we’re really trying to move forward on a lot of different fronts with new media, with digital television, the movie theatre captioning, and you can find us at <http: //>, if you’re interested. There’s information about how to solve captioning problems you find in transmissions and in dealing with local stations. There’s lists of network contacts and those sorts of things. So, certainly feel free to avail yourselves of that info. I think I’ve given you a pretty good idea of how we operate. I’m going to take a little different tack here with the rest of my time and suggest that maybe we short-circuited our process a little bit. We’re all sort of feeling our way through this.

I sort of expected to be able to add to this list after lunch, and it sounds like a few other people did, as well. I had been jotting things down this morning that I wanted to see on the list, and no electronic newsroom captioning was one of them, and thank you very much for bringing that up. Perhaps Spanish captioning should have been on the list. I had a few other things that I thought should have been added to the list, and Max and a few other people have mentioned that. So, at the risk of messing up your agenda too much –

MR. HUTCHINS: Not going to happen.

MR. APONE: We’ll save that for meeting number two.

MR. HUTCHINS: No, I said you’re not going to mess it up.

MR. APONE: Jeff and Jo Ann have done a great job organizing this, and I think it is very important to stay on task and stay on the agenda. I think we have to be a little flexible, and as sensitive as the body is, that we need to do something a little different, then by all means, I say, let’s do that. I’ll throw that back in your lap and let you do with it what you care to, and turn it over to Joe.

MR. HUTCHINS: Joe, before you come up, I had – during the break I promised another person the chance to talk first. Do you want to come up? And I apologize, I forgot when I promised.

MS. McMANUS: Hi there. A lot of people have always given me a time of being so short, so maybe I should sign like this, way up above my head. My name is Missy Mcmanus, and this is Teresa Rogers, and we’re from the Captioned Media Program in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Our main responsibility or duty at work is to proofread the captions on our CMP videos for English accuracy, spelling mistakes, punctuation and editing, how many words per minute and so forth. Teresa is going to go into a little more detail about what our focus is on the captioning quality. You all have this information in front of you. Teresa is going to go over this part of the front page, the information you have on the front page.

We review about 300 videos every year, paying attention to the quality of captioning, checking for accuracy and so forth. Spelling accuracy, and I know that many of you sometimes – many of the court reporters or captioners out there that do the work sometimes overlook errors, and sometimes it takes a second or third set of eyes because there often isn’t much time to go back and review, but if you do have the time, it does help to have the second or third person review the captioning for accuracy and so forth. About five years ago, we developed captioning style guidelines, hoping that the captioning industry would help us and pick up on some of these standards, the things that we’ve been trying to do in captioning for so many years. And I know that the style issues are varied, so what we call here “captioning is the key,” there’s a list – if you would like a copy, we have several copies with us. We didn’t bring enough for all 80 of us here, but you will be able to get this information off of our Web site, as well, <http: //>.

We also evaluate captioning agencies for our caption work, the 300 that we review annually, and again, “captioning is the key” that we have developed, this list of standards, hoping that you would follow ours, knowing that we are very liberal. We keep our video – we keep – I apologize, we keep a library of videotapes, especially educational videotapes for youth and children in the school system. This is information that is in the packet that you have, as well. Read it when you have a chance. We developed the “captioning is the key” program because we want to see standards. It’s not that we’re determining what the standards are, but we collected feedback from a lot of the agencies that have established guidelines, Judith Harkins with the TAP program, we got consumer feedback and compiled all this and developed this program in the hopes that this could become a basis upon which we could all work together, again, throughout all of the captioning agencies.

Two captioning handouts that we have from two agencies, the two agency perspectives, so that’s also included there. Not only do we distribute videos for free loan, or for free, we loan them out for free, but we also provide free information on a variety of issues, such as captioning laws, articles that are written by consumers about their perspectives on captioning, and Spanish captioning, as well, Hispanic captioning. We have about 70 handouts or so that are free. And they are – the program is basically – is called CAI, Captioning and Accessibility Information. We have an order form. And it’s obviously not this size. It is smaller, an 8 ½ by 11, like you have in your packet, but if you would like some of the free information, check off the information you would like, and we will mail it to you, or you can get it off our Web site, <http: //>, and you can click on the ones you want, and we will send them to you. Thank you.

MR. KARLOVITS: I will not use my entire five minutes.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re going to find out.

MR. KARLOVITS: First of all, I would like to recognize our consumer panel. Not all of our members could make it. Some of them were here and have left. But the people who I believe are still in the audience are Nanci Linke-Ellis. Nanci, do you want to stand up? Carl Jensema. Stand up, Carl. Everybody wants to see your pretty face. Stand up. He won’t do it. He’s bashful. Jack O’Keeffe. And Al “Sonny” Sonnenstrahl. He’s already standing up in the back. Jean Modry was here, and she left about one hour ago. There’s been a lot of discussion, and I agree with all the comments that have been made by the different captioning providers, and so I’m not going to go over all of that. I think what we did in this process is identify some significant points that are consumer concerns. Overwhelming, I guess, is the special report issue, by far, the one that got the most votes.

And how do we come to a solution for all these issues? Some of them already are in the works, but how do we come to the solution? Well, it’s going to take a little bit of money. The other thing that I think we identified is we need some research, because with research and data, you can go back to your customers, the advertisers, and you have information that’s valid that identifies the audience. That proves to them that the caption audience really is valuable to them. And, you know, the solution for that is to somehow come up with funding, number one, to pay for that research. On the live side, on the special report side, in my thinking, possibly the FCC can help us in this, but just as a point, it would be great if like some states have adopted for CART services where a fund is set aside – of money – and we have a lot of captioning companies who are here who can pool their people and work more or less on some type of stand-by system. And their people would be paid to do that.

And when emergencies occur, we would have this hotline that a station could call to cover those emergencies. But as I said, that’s going to take some funding. I’m not sure where we get that. In that regard, I would like to propose a resolution that we can discuss when we go into these groups. I would move that we create a caption industry standards group to be funded by its members, under the auspices of NCRA, to study the recommendations and concerns expressed at this meeting and to develop solutions thereto on or before June 1 of 2003. And I know that there are a lot of ramifications in there. NCRA typically deals with the live side, but Mark Golden has agreed that they would help support this standards group through its infancy and until it could stand on its own. So, that’s my resolution, and those are all my comments, Mr. Hutchins.

MR. HUTCHINS: 4 ½ minutes.

MR. KARLOVITS: I told you I wasn’t going to use all of mine.

MR. HUTCHINS: You told me. We have a few other companies that I would love to hear from. Tammie, you want to be next? Tammie Shedd. And we’re also – I know, Media Captioning Services intends to come up shortly and speak, and there may be others, as well. Okay, good.

MS. SHEDD: Hi, I’m Tammie Shedd with Visual Audio Captioning, and my business partner, Jerry Shedd, is with me. And we are related, as you might be able to tell by the names. And our consumer advisory board panel members are here. Sue Bungard. Sue, could you stand up, please. And Mary Tingler. And they both came in from Ohio, and thank you, we certainly appreciate that. And Fred Orr. And Fred, thank you, will you stand up, please. Thank you, as well, for coming and sharing your time here. First, let me say, Joe, I thought that was an excellent idea about trying to find some sort of – or create some sort of stand-by group or position. I wonder if it could work something like telephone relay works, so you just sparked some thoughts in my head, where there could be a central location that people could call in, if they need emergency captioning coverage.

I think many of the captioning companies here would offer their services for live captioning in any instant for any other company’s clients if any captioning company were to call and say, we need your help, we need help in this area, we can’t connect because maybe we’ve been affected by the emergency, and if we all pooled our resources together, maybe we would address that, because that’s probably when the captions are most important and when the consumers will depend on them the most. Secondly, on your other issue, I think I have a little bit differing view, and certainly as we have heard, a lot of people say today that price competition over the years has affected caption quality. And it depends, I guess, on which years you’re looking at, because if you look at it from the very beginning of live captioning, back in the early ‘80s, and if you consider the fact that an uncaptioned program has the poorest quality of all, then certainly price competition and the generation of the new businesses has improved caption quality significantly.

If you look at it from the standpoint that the traditional sense of captioning, where we were able to have multiple people working on live shows, and we were able to have multiple reviews of live and pre-recorded programming, the lower priced competition has reduced some of those efforts that go into quality control, so you may say in that sense it has brought down the quality a little bit. But along those lines, the training tools and methods and just the quality of the live captioners in general coming out of the court reporting programs has improved a thousand-fold, and I don’t think there’s anybody in here that watched TV in the early ‘80s that could dispute or would dispute that the captioning quality is not far better now than it was at that time.

Additionally, with the implementation of the new technologies, it has improved the captioning. The software and hardware have improved. They have a ways to go, as well, but they have improved, and they have also changed the way that operations are set up. Traditionally, with live captioning, everything was done from a central location. But now with technology the way it is, it can be done from a remote site. And also, if you do consider, even when you do have a captioning company that has a central location, they’re still remote from the broadcast site most of the time, so really, the process isn’t that much different than if you’re a company that doesn’t have the central location. Many of the captioning companies, as you have heard everyone say here today, that always had a central location, and actually, I think all of them have migrated from that traditional centralized location to utilizing the remote sites, and then many other businesses have started – smaller businesses that have started simply using remote captioning sites.

And a lot of the smaller businesses have created their own business processes and their own quality control programs, and they routinely achieve the highest industry standards. But then again, what are those standards? They aren’t set in granite, and I think that’s the question we hear today. But I would argue that I don’t believe that poor quality is necessarily a result of price competition. I think it’s a result of management practices and philosophies and the corporate commitment to quality control, just as much as it is a result of price competition, I should say, a lot more than it is as a result of price competition. Quality captions can be and are currently provided at competitive prices, but I also wonder if maybe a lot of the competition requirements in a case especially where it is governed through a formal request for proposal process, shouldn’t be limited to price, but they should include evaluation of the services. So that people will be getting the awards based on the best value, not the lowest price alone.

MR. HUTCHINS: 30 seconds, Tammie.

MS. SHEDD: Oh, boy, I have only 30 seconds. Okay. Captioning has two unique groups that benefit – two client bases. One is the consumer, and one is generally the people who are paying for the product. And it needs to be our goal to serve both bodies, and I feel that any regulatory agency that sets standards should be 100% independent of the providers being regulated. You have not only the people in this room today, but there are the hardware and software developers, broadcasters, TV manufacturers, advertisers, and a large number of consumers not represented here that need to be represented by that regulating body that will be able to set the standards, and they will be free of the influence of any individual entity, and I think that it needs to be the FCC, and I think that they’re the single organization that is void of potential conflict of interest in affecting their performance and decisions, and it will allow them to make the most effective decisions and effectively accomplish the primary objective of serving the consumers’ needs.

MR. HUTCHINS: Richard, there’s a woman next to you who I think was hoping to go next. Are you Liani?

MS. JOHNSON: Yes, I am.

MR. HUTCHINS: I didn’t have a chance to meet you before. Do you want to introduce yourself.

MS. JOHNSON: Good afternoon, my name is Liani Johnson, based out of London, VisionText. Originally started closed captioning commercials in Europe as there wasn’t a large producing market out there at the time. Then with the experience of our technical director, Mike Farrell, we got asked to get involved in subtitling in the early days of DVD. So, our main background and what we focus on is DVD, and as a result of that, in the domestic market, with closed captioning being provided on the disks, we got involved in the offline captioning. Offline side has been running, and my feelings in the market may be a bit controversial at this point, but on the vendor side, even though we all say we believe in quality and the market, we’re very disparate in the fact we don’t work together in improving quality. We have our own agendas and the commercial part of keeping operations running than keeping the market running, as such.

And my feeling is in the broadcast side that there are so many opportunities out there currently because of the regulations of increasing the number of captioning hours that are out there – excuse me – that there is a lot of work out there. We don’t need to be that competitive, as we used to be when first getting into captioning. We should be working together to improve the market, rather than trying to compete that much against each other. I mean, captioning is captioning. It’s not – it’s not rocket science. We all need to work together. And these kinds of meetings, we all are very friendly, you know, we say we want to work together, and we share a lot of information, but it doesn’t have to come down to an organized event like this where people spend a lot of money to get together for us to actually work together. Shouldn’t we change the culture and start helping each other out? Because at the end of the day, yes, we are commercial companies, but we are providing a service to a consumer who is very important and whose life changes, so surely our goal as well as being commercial organizations should be to better their lives.

Because that’s what we are doing. That’s where we make our money from, is making their lives better. And so that was my controversial speech, and I’ll get on to some of the other issues that were discussed. One of the issues that was mentioned is timelines being shortened and the fact that working tapes were used to create our captions and then we supply it to the broadcaster, and things are changed in the final editing. One of the questions is, why don’t we basically use the working master to begin with, but shortly before something is aired get the final master to review it? We have the same problem in Europe where they keep making changes until the last minute because that’s what creative people do, but as long as you actually educate them and get them to understand that you need to make sure that everything is finally correct and approved, it is really not a problem.

My second point on that, on the shortened timelines is that rather than not having something reviewed or checked by a second pair of eyes and trying to rush something through is to split the work between two trained captioners and then get them to review each other’s work. That way it’s getting reviewed in half the time. But, you know, you’re still getting a checked product out the door. And somebody who has created their own work, because they’ve originated those words, they’ve seen the piece of material, and they know what they intended to put there, they don’t necessarily see the errors that are staring them in the face, whereas someone who is unbiased and didn’t create that material generally tends to spot it at first view. Another point is about quality and cost. Yes, there has been a drop in pricing, but a lot of that has been us competing against each other and trying to get the business, so we undercut each other, and we drive the price down. So, we’re complaining about costs and not being able to get what we need for our project to be done, but we’re also not explaining to the client when we’re trying to get that business and dropping the cost what the actual cost is in terms of quality, in terms of the fact that we cannot afford to put the QC in that we used to.

Part of our company’s pricing structure is that – yeah, we have A rates and B rates, and the A rates we’re very clear, all the QC that we put in there, because that’s one of our main premises is QC is the key. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money and you want to go at a lesser price, we’re very clear about what QC processes are cut out of the process. We’ll never let anything go out the door without being reviewed. And then – so basically my main point at the end of this is why does it take something like this for us to come together and share ideas to improve quality? Why can’t we just work together without this great expense and use the money that we spend in setting up user groups to actually improve the quality of the work that we provide? Thank you.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. Richard, do you want to be next? Is there anyone who wishes to present? There are still a few companies we have not heard from. I want to make sure you all have an opportunity to know that your comments would be welcome. So, please, raise your hands and jump up as soon as richard is done, and we’ll decide where we are going. Richard?

MR. PETTINATO: Thank you, Jeff, my name is Richard Pettinato from Media Captioning Services. I’m executive vice president, and my main areas of responsibility are in finance and marketing, and everything except the actual captioning. I appreciate the opportunity to speak last, even if most of the good points have been made. It is late in the afternoon, and it’s now about 12: 15 my time. I appreciate that. I think many of the key points this morning, obviously, reflect the concern of this group, consensus, and attempt to define what the role of the consumer is, what the role of the FCC is. I would like to begin, personally, though, however, by identifying people from our company and advisory board who are here.

I would like to introduce Patricia Ferrier, president of Media Captioning and founder of Media Captioning. Patricia, would you stand, please. I’d like to also introduce Dr. Robert Davila, the chairman of our advisory board. Dr. Davila, would you please stand. Thank you. We’re very proud to have Dr. Davila representing an excellent advisory board. We have a very proactive advisory board who will benefit a great deal by the information that has been shared today. I would like to point out that from our perspective that many of the issues we see as issues of concern, from an unfortunate standpoint, they are issues that have been on the table for many years. Issues of captioning position, justification, they’re relatively old issues. We see a lot of dots on the back of the board on two key issues that I would like to elaborate upon. And those issues pertain to the ability of real-time captioners, and I would presume then the quality of preparation in terms of terminology for people who are on the real-time area of the business. I would like to point out that Media Captioning does solely real-time captioning, which we have done for 15 years.

I think the key problem facing our industry is the ability to attract the most talented people in the industry. You have to start with talented people in order to create a talented product. Right now, because of the cost-cutting and, in fact, this morning, several key points were pointed out, cost-cutting in the industry has led to less resources that are being put into the production process. And the conclusion was made that perhaps we need certification or standards as a consequence of this. I’d like to back up and say that as Tammie Shedd has pointed out, many companies – many smaller companies have had to adjust to this revenue and cost challenge, and this revenue and cost challenge is, in many respects, a derivative of the economic conditions that we are in right now.

Broadcast and cable providers in certain instances have been unwilling to incur the cost of closed captioning. I think this issue has to be stated up front. And, in fact, they have been receptive to economic proposals where they are presented with the opportunity to receive sponsorship. Well, I don’t believe the role of the closed captioning company is to provide the sponsorship in our industry. Our role is to provide the best and highest quality of real-time captioning. That economic risk and all those issues about what we call “barter captioning” have been addressed in articles which you can refer to on our Web page, <http: //>. I encourage you to read the articles that have been disseminated. I believe that the FCC as the single point of contact is the right place to begin in terms of addressing a lot of the concerns that we all have. Tom Apone in his presentation this morning highlighted those issues that are within the control of the captioning companies and those that are beyond the control of the captioning companies. And I really believe that it would certainly behoove all consumers – and I’m reminded of network news – where the director says, I’m mad as all heck, and the consumers are mad as all heck at the frustration they have experienced over the years, and a lot of it comes from lack of information.

I would suggest that the FCC have a person in charge of answering a number of these questions that come up or maybe, for purposes of efficiency, posted on their Web page those points that Tom Apone had brought up this morning, those issues that are a matter within the control of the captioning company, and those out of the control of the captioning company. Networks would be most responsive to the FCC, in fact, more responsive than the consumer. So, there’s a very important role for the FCC to play, not only the single point of contact, but as the source of dissemination about this.

MR. HUTCHINS: 30 seconds, Richard.

MR. PETTINATO: 30 seconds, and I haven’t got everything done, but that’s fine. I would also just like to close and say that I think we have to be careful about distinguishing between styles and preference and styles and standards. Some issues may fall within the purview of preferences, but should not be designated as standards to be followed by the industry. I thank you all for your time.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. Nice job. Thank you. Are there any other companies that wish to use this opportunity to speak to the group? I believe, if I counted right, 11 companies have made a presentation, 7 of you in this room have not, and that’s fine. Please don’t feel compelled to speak. In fact, you may feel at this point that most of the issues that would concern you have been raised in one form or another. Now comes the hard part, because while I tried to think of everything before we got here today, now comes the part I didn’t give any thought to, the small groups. You all have a number, and we’re going to break into small groups, but you might notice I haven’t told you where, because I haven’t figured it out yet. So, maybe I should have poked my head out the door. We can’t all be in one room, or we will drown each other out. I need to make sure there is someone in each group who can serve as an interpreter.

Now, we have a few people here who are paid interpreters, and we have a few others – I’m not looking at you, Traci, who are also very expert at it, and there may be others. So, if you have the ability to interpret for your group, we would be grateful. We just simply couldn’t bring five full interpreters in for the day.

PARTICIPANT: Can we have a couple of captioners?

MR. HUTCHINS: I guess if there’s a group that really must have captioning, instead of interpreting, we can certainly – well, we only have the ability to output one set of captions, so one group would have to – that’s a good point. You can see that, you know – here’s another place where I might have done a little better job of organization.

PARTICIPANT: If we have each group in a separate room and if one person speaks at a time, it will be less of a problem, but you’re going to have more than one group in a room, it’s going to become a nightmare for those of us who are severely hard-of-hearing.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think we may be able to put two in this room, one in the back and one in the front, and that will be sufficient separation, but I agree, I don’t think we can have more than two groups in this room without a problem. We have the room. Laura, got an idea?

MS. DOTY: We can use the rooms over here. They’re setting up dinner across the way, so we can’t use that room.

MR. HUTCHINS: How many rooms here?

MS. DOTY: One room here.

MR. HUTCHINS: One room there.

MS. DOTY: We can use the hall.

MR. HUTCHINS: Maybe one group out in the hallway.

MS. DOTY: There’s one outside.

MR. HUTCHINS: And one outside. One group – all right, we’re going to make an executive decision here. Group number one is going to grab your chairs and meet out in the hallway here. And group number two – well, who really is going to not be able to participate if they don’t have captioning? Maybe we can put all of you in the same group and have captioning during your group. Is there anyone who would – who cannot participate if they don’t have captioning?

PARTICIPANT: The only problem is, to some extent, you’ve got 15 people in a group, is that what you are saying?

MR. HUTCHINS: 14 or 15, yeah.

PARTICIPANT: Some people aren’t going to know until they’re in the group and the discussion starts as to whether they need captioning. So, I suggest you do have captioning here and save the people, if they think it’s borderline or if it gets impossible –

MR. HUTCHINS: If it gets impossible, you can leave your group and come into this group. Group three will meet here in the front, and we’re going to ask our captioners to stay involved and provide captioning. You’ll have to talk loud enough in your group, a big circle here, loud enough for the captioners to be able to provide the service, and we can turn the monitor around so it is visible. Group two, how about you meet in the back corner of this room, the far corner away from the doors. Group four, in the next room, behind us, and group five, by the exit doors, there’s a kind of a lounge area, and I think that will work. And if it doesn’t, Jo Ann and I will be moving around from group to group, and we’ll try to provide whatever help you might need. Helen? Your job is to recommend five next steps for this group. It might work better if we had one person taking notes and a different person being the leader.

PARTICIPANT: Facilitator.

MR. HUTCHINS: Facilitator, I agree. I think the person who hasn’t spoken before should be the leader. You don’t have to be the leader, but someone perhaps who hasn’t spoken to get the group consensus.

[Breakout sessions]

MR. HUTCHINS: Time to settle down. We have just a bit of time left. It’s going to get interesting. Move that? Sure. I have to tell you that my personal level of excitement about this conference just shot up a notch walking around, listening to the groups, and realizing that the real fun, but also the real work of what we’re doing here today is just about to happen. Because, here’s where they say the rubber meets the road. And if I can think of more cliches, I’m going to use them. Because everybody, I mean, we just took a group of people, a room full of people, we educated ourselves to be thinking about the same issues that we face. We made a decision as a group to list certain things that we found problematic or of some concern. We’ve decided which of those seemed to be important to the greatest number of us.

And then we said – set five different groups of consumer service providers and educated groups, tell us what to do next. Now, the question is, and there’s some drama here, are you all going to say the same four or five things which means, that anyone who understands the industry, all are singing the same song of what’s next? And to the extent that the list we’re about to make does that, we are ready to move. As an industry. So, what we want to do is have each of the five groups come forward, one leader at a time, and explain to us your group’s recommendations. Jo Ann and I are then going to try to phrase those, boss if there are more or less the same recommendations from two groups, we’re going to combine them.

And at the end, instead of 25 recommendations, I would love to see a list of 10. Or smaller. Because that would tell me that we’re all thinking the same way about what are the problems and we’re all thinking the same way about what are the solutions or at least the next steps to take. So what happens in the next half-hour or so is critically important to the future of the captioning industry. Because we are about to vote how to conduct ourselves as an industry for the future. Now, that may have escaped you. As you sat through today, just how important this vote is.

Because if 18 different captioning companies can come together in the same room and 30 independent consumers from all over the country can come together in the same room and say, “we see the same things the same way,” then we have a mandate for action, and that will mean that tomorrow is a different day in the captioning industry than today was. So, each company has been given four blue dots. Hopefully. If any company did not get one set of blue dots, let me know. If every consumer in the room did not get one set of red dots, let me know.

PARTICIPANT: I got them but I lost them.

MR. HUTCHINS: We’re going to trust you with an extra set.


MR. HUTCHINS: I’m going to be watching you, Helen. All right, who – I would like to take group number one and ask your leader to come forward, whoever that may be, and tell us. Now, I got told you, as I walked from – as I walked from group to group and I think Jo Ann had the same experience, the ideas and the energy coming out of this group is what has really energized me, now. I am so pumped for this last half hour that you’ll have to hold me down. And so, I can’t wait to hear what Joe Karlovits has to say.

MR. KARLOVITS: It’s almost Miller time.

PARTICIPANT: Recommendation number one.

MR. KARLOVITS: I need a steno machine to write everything down that we’re talking about but our item number one for group number one is, we proposed that there be a captioning industry association. Number two, that we accept the offer of NCRA to help us form this association and to operate initially under its auspices.

MR. HUTCHINS: Can I stop you right there for a second, Joe and just – we want to make sure we represent this right and, so you’re first – we’ll just say captioning industry association, you think should be formed. Your second is just to –

MR. KARLOVITS: That we accept the offer of NCRA.

MR. HUTCHINS: Work with NCRA. We’ll reduce it to that because others may have something similar and I don’t want to phrase things yet in the form of a resolution because we’re going to have to have room for dots and for voting. As long as everybody understands what each dot will be about. We’ll pretty it up before you vote.

MR. KARLOVITS: Number three is that there be an organizational meeting before the end of 2002. Each company present at this meeting will be invited to send one company representative and one consumer to attend. The goal of – the goal of this organization is going to be to address the solutions to those issues identified in this meeting.

MR. HUTCHINS: So, the end of 2002 is your recommendation on that?

MR. KARLOVITS: It is September, right?

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s your fourth?

MR. KARLOVITS: We don’t have a five.

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s OK, we’re happy.

MR. KARLOVITS: We support the expansion of a qualified labor pool of closed captioners.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. So, group number one. I know they were struggling to make four recommendations and yet, I think in the struggle, probably put a great deal of attention and thought into each of those recommendations. I don’t – I don’t want to prejudice anybody here but that seems like an awfully good start. Now, would group number two have a leader? OK, Jay, are you signing for yourself?

PARTICIPANT: I’m a very poor signer. So, he can do that, if he can do that, it would be great. If I’m not speaking clearly, start waving at me. OK, I’m sorry. Some of you were going like this. Forming an industry association, however, we also specify that that association should involve all industries related to captioning. Software, hardware manufacturers, not just captioning companies. But any other organization that may have an impact on captioning. And then, that industry association can have a lot of impact on not only defining things but lobbying and fundraising for research and things like that.

MR. HUTCHINS: Let me ask you, then, would you, in phrasing that particular recommendation, that there be a – similar to Joe’s, that there be a captioning industry association, is there anything we need to add to that bullet? Do you modify it in a special way?

PARTICIPANT: Association, not a captioning company. But it should also include software manufacturer, hardware manufacturer and other groups related to captioning.

MR. HUTCHINS: I want to ask Joe, does that differ in any way from your recommendation? Do you agree that it should be a wide-open group that includes consumers, producers, any interested party?

MR. KARLOVITS: We don’t disagree but the reason why we didn’t put that in as one of our points is because we were going to leave that up to the organizational group. So, we did discuss exactly those points. But we felt that we should leave that to this group who would convene later.

MR. HUTCHINS: So you might not necessarily want to make that a mandate or a given that the association would include – who it might include. You don’t want to prejudge who’s in it until you’ve got some organizational meeting first?


MR. HUTCHINS: Would you accept – do you understand what I said?

PARTICIPANT: We defined. That –

MR. HUTCHINS: Yes, as opposed to saying at this meeting that we want an association that we – he is suggesting we not decide today who is included because one of the things that happens when you decide who is included in an association is you also decide in some cases who is not. So it might be better, and I don’t know, maybe other leaders can speak to this, but this is an important point, we want to get it right, we don’t want to split the vote three or four different ways. I think it’s important to say at this point, we are recommending, the creation of a trade association, the members of whom have yet to be determined but we’ll leave it at that.

PARTICIPANT: It should be greater than just captioning –

MR. HUTCHINS: Probably should be greater than. I think it’s acceptable language for most people. Sorry to interrupt you but I saw a possible conflict.

PARTICIPANT: The second is, should be interesting. We recommend to create a standard and certification, the model of which has yet to be determined. We are not involved in details, there are higher levels, here. That would be something like Underwriters’ Laboratories, an association that may involve – representatives from the captioning companies but it’s separate, independent. And capable of setting up an independent setup for the certification of real-time captioning. Are any other interpretations or regulations or standards. That we may want to have, that are independent from the industry itself.

MR. HUTCHINS: So, let’s phrase that recommendation for a second. There are already trade associations that involve the technical side of captioning. Designated as Line 21 and find out what that should mean to a TV maker or decoder maker. They haven’t been involved. It’s been a little bit of one union and a little bit of the Electronic Industry Association which we talked about earlier, EIA. They have already written a lot of standards that deal with the technical side. So I think it’s important that if we’re going to phrase this recommendation, that it may be – maybe is dealing mostly with the content of the captioning. The process of creating and – the captions.

PARTICIPANT: The process of captioning.

MR. HUTCHINS: OK, so, to set standards for the practice of captioning.

PARTICIPANT: If you want –

MR. HUTCHINS: Maybe that’s clear enough for now and somebody else might want to modify that.

PARTICIPANT: To create or define a single point of contact for all consumers and whoever else may want to register a complaint and file information or – inquire about information or whatever. One single point of contact, whether it’s at the FCC or not is not to be determined here. That single point of contact should also be given the resources to promote information about itself. To be distributed to associations and organizations or whatever. So the funding for it.

PARTICIPANT: I said define single point of contact.

MR. HUTCHINS: Yeah, I think you’re right and it belongs on the list because it was one of the highest priorities, that it was missing. And the people were concerned about that. Do you think, and I would suggest not, but do you think that that would be included under trade, you say, let’s create an industry association. Might that single point of contract be that association? Or do you want to not make that decision yet?

PARTICIPANT: Maybe somebody else. There needs to be one and the industry association may determine that. They are the one. To – or it may be determined that some other group is the point of contact.

MR. HUTCHINS: Self-promoting. In other words, a single point of contact has the money to promote itself. However, in other words, it’s not just to say OK, there’s a contact. I mean, a contact could be one, one guy sitting at his phone. Or at his computer waiting for E-mail. But we want more than that. So I think it’s an important part of the recommendation, that it be sufficiently funded to promote itself.

PARTICIPANT: I think – I think it’s important to say they have the funding but do they have the authority to make changes. To make changes and enforce changes to be made?

MR. HUTCHINS: I think most associations would want that ability.

PARTICIPANT: That’s not what we meant. Not on the list.

MR. HUTCHINS: Do you hear what he said?

PARTICIPANT: We want to talk about single point of contact with any authority with the power to make changes. We’re talking about a single point of contact for consumers to go to.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think it’s more of the association, the lobbyer, that’s kind of how I took Liani’s comment.

PARTICIPANT: Clarify this one.

PARTICIPANT: Authority, we don’t want that word.

MR. HUTCHINS: They don’t have the authority or power to necessarily – I mean –

PARTICIPANT: Point of contact for where people come for information, where consumers –

MR. HUTCHINS: This is specifically a single point of contact for the consumer. Doesn’t work the other way. NBC wouldn’t call this group. NBC or ABC, the TV stations, they won’t call this group for information? Is it also a clearinghouse?

PARTICIPANT: It must be pretty broad. I think the networks should call them also. But there’s a standards body and there will be a single point of contact.

PARTICIPANT: As in define single point of contact.

PARTICIPANT: Maybe – we have three more groups coming up so I’m sure they’ll have things to add. The fourth one and fifth one can be done by perhaps the industry association, but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about what to do going forward. So one is to promote training for real-time and offline captioning and that training can take many forms. Could be promoting captioning as a career source. But it’s not just a summer job. It can provide scholarships or in any way, shape or form to get people to realize that real-time captioning and offline captioning are both viable resources. That’s pretty clear. For high school and college people.

The fifth, encourage the FCC to be more proactive, in other words, not wait until 2008 before you find out whether there is compliance. But the people at the FCC need to start now and be able to investigate complaints or randomly go to networks and ask for reports of the last three months or the last six months or asking the FCC to be more proactive and ensuring compliance so when 2008 comes around, everything is in place.

MR. HUTCHINS: So you do a petition to the FCC?

PARTICIPANT: Sure, a petition, I don’t know how, again, we’re high-level people, here. However it has to be done, I just want to do it.

MR. HUTCHINS: Group number three. Thank you very much, that was great. This is Rob Troy of Captions, Inc.

PARTICIPANT: It’s amazing but a lot of similar things that everyone else is saying. Number one, we came up with, we were not opposed to the NCRA as the umbrella, that we feel there should be an organization put together to oversee the way captioning is going. But we feel that there should be a timeline imposed as to, that it maybe started under another organization but, eventually, that we have a goal of breaking off on its own. Also, that that organization has mainly run by captioners and captioning companies and consumers. Not by the NCRA. That there would be the focus mainly on what our needs would be. That’s number one.

Number two, for some reason, everybody seems to be against ENR. For some reason. I guess that would be, maybe they’re missing a lot of captions, but whatever the reason, we feel that all the small market news stations that would be using ENR would be under the same rules that the top 25 are. That it does not count, actually, as their captioning quota.

MR. HUTCHINS: Would you petition the FCC to change their rulemaking on that? Because that’s what it would take for the FCC to consider, if I understand correctly, Traci, is that correct?


MR. HUTCHINS: It would take a petition to the FCC so are you recommending a petition to the FCC to expand real-time captioning mandate beyond the top 25 markets.

PARTICIPANT: That’s correct.

PARTICIPANT: Are you asking for that or are you asking to get rid of ENR, allowing ENR to count as captioning? I’m asking for clarification. I heard two different things.

PARTICIPANT: We’re not asking to get rid of, even though we do not like ENR, we’re not asking for the FCC to get rid of it.

MR. HUTCHINS: In other words, your petition could apply to their local news programs. That’s what we need to change and I think it’s pretty specific and maybe there would be good reasons not to have them outlawed, automatic captioning coming from a prompting system. Limited to news. I think it’s a great idea. Petition the FCC to expand real-time news captioning to all markets. Is that –

PARTICIPANT: Yes. One of the reasons we came one that was that a lot of the news stations will have sponsors saying this was – captions provided by whoever. However, you’re not really getting what you’re paying for when 20% of the program is not actually captioned. Number three, we would like to put some teeth into the emergency captioning regulations. Where there’s an offender, we actually have a fine that would be put in effect by the FCC

MR. HUTCHINS: OK, I’m not –

PARTICIPANT: So, for instance, some kind of weather warning comes on, there’s no captioning. There’s been a – an issue where it should be captioned, it is not. That the FCC backs that up.

MR. HUTCHINS: OK, what’s – what are we voting to do, though? I think everybody agrees the FCC should back it up. What specific action might we commit to. Is that kind of the same thing?

PARTICIPANT: To petition the FCC to expand real-time news to all –

PARTICIPANT: No. To encourage the FCC –

PARTICIPANT: Encourage the FCC be more proactive in ensuring compliance.

MR. HUTCHINS: Yes. I think that’s very similar. You say you want them to be exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.

PARTICIPANT: Excuse, comment.

PARTICIPANT: I think our group clarified that. There are two separate issues. Specifically, the – there is a – already a requirement to use real-time for emergency captioning. We want that to be enforced because that has not been enforced with uniformity in markets. And the second request which would require petitioning would be the stipulation that ENR be expanded beyond – that the prohibition against the use – not the prohibition but real-time captioning be applied in all markets outside the top 25, although ENR can be used in certain applications.

MR. HUTCHINS: Also, one of the specific areas that we want to force compliance is the emergency report. I wonder if that’s not implicit but I think we could add it. I think if you’re asking for compliance with all the rules, that’s pretty inclusive of everything. Maybe I’m wrong on that. People feel differently?

PARTICIPANT: I just wonder if – and I agree with you but I think, aren’t we looking for overall steps here rather than the actual issues that the organizational committee would say, OK, these are the things we’re going to tackle. Obviously, the FCC as a captioning entity or something is what we’re looking to expand and define and clarify and using the pipeline for whatever, from this organization that’s created. I think, overall, that’s more, specific.

MR. HUTCHINS: Yeah, Jim? Thank you, Nanci.

PARTICIPANT: I’d like to clarify ENR, Emergency Newsroom Captioning or Electronic Newsroom. Doesn’t only require real-time captioning. The FCC permits graphics, to make it visually accessible but there’s different ways that can be done. Not necessarily real-time.

MR. HUTCHINS: Although certainly that’s probably the very best way to do it. OK, I feel like the wording is OK as long as everybody understands what they’re voting on if they place a dot on that. Is that acceptable? Karen?

PARTICIPANT: I didn’t want – that was one of our things that we listed. I didn’t want to lose the fact that what we had in mind was complying that they’re doing the amount they’re supposed to be doing. At the 50% point, listing this is the number of hours of programs captioned versus the total number of hours programming, we wanted it to be more proactive where they have to demonstrate they are keeping up with the compliance.

MR. HUTCHINS: Excellent point. I think people understand when they vote for that dot, that’s where they’re going. My fear is if we break this into two resolutions, we split the vote. And you will – you’ll make people choose between. So I’d rather keep it simple, like this. All right, I’m sorry.

PARTICIPANT: Lastly, give consumers the tools to work with. Like a Web site. But, that it’s a complete informational site where if you have problems with captioning, you can go to this site, and fill out a detailed form of exactly what the complaint is. That would be it.

MR. HUTCHINS: Can you phrase that for Jo Ann?

PARTICIPANT: By creating a Web site for information?

PARTICIPANT: The same as the point of contact.

PARTICIPANT: Wouldn’t that be one point of contact and the Web site would be part of that?


PARTICIPANT: To incorporate that into –

MR. HUTCHINS: I think a single point of contact into today’s world would conclude it’s one of the best ways to communicate. If they are promoting as the earlier group, they’re going to use the Internet. So I think we’re OK with that one. That’s like two groups that came up with almost the identical recommendation. So that’s great work. Thank you. Is that it?


PARTICIPANT: Thanks, Rob. Could I have the leader of group four. I don’t know who the leaders are. Laura Doty from Vitac.

PARTICIPANT: A lot of our points have been mentioned already, which is good. We felt that ENR should not be counted as part of the closed captioning hours. But the – that the FCC requires. And we agreed with the point about starting an industry association. That would include consumers and vendors and other groups that are involved in captioning. We clarified it a little bit, saying national organizations. We felt that that was important because we could get so many people involved in it.

The third point was that we thought there needed to be some principles developed and business ethics, which goes back to the standards – I think somebody made that point. That was one of the points, that standards need to be developed. And, number four was that there used to be a network for captioning companies for the emergency real-time services. And I don’t think that was – that was mentioned earlier –

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s new.

PARTICIPANT: That’s new.

MR. HUTCHINS: A sort of network for sharing real-time resources in a time of emergency.

PARTICIPANT: Just like a network pool.

MR. HUTCHINS: It’s similar to what the television – Nanci is saying it’s like a network pool. It’s the way that often TV networks share a camera at a news event because maybe they didn’t all get a camera there but if the event is important enough, they share it and let other networks use their video. In this case, it would be basically a pool of captioners that would work for the common good of all consumers. Which is a very noble idea.

PARTICIPANT: And our fifth point was that we felt there should be a way to rate companies. That there needs to be some kind of “Good Housekeeping” rating of approval. Seal of approval.

PARTICIPANT: Thank you. That’s great and we have one more group.

PARTICIPANT: That would be similar –

MR. HUTCHINS: Certification.

PARTICIPANT: The certification process, I guess.

MR. HUTCHINS: Come on up, Tammie.

PARTICIPANT: You have to have standards before you can have certification.

MR. HUTCHINS: Is it one item or two? I don’t –

PARTICIPANT: Isn’t it what is normally called standards and practices?

MR. HUTCHINS: Laura, can you tell me from there what is the wording of your recommendation?

PARTICIPANT: A rate seal of approval. Rating.

MR. HUTCHINS: Well, I guess if you have standards, you have ratings. But it may go a little beyond that, I’m sorry.

PARTICIPANT: Just a little distinction between we – we all viewed certification meaning that in perhaps in the real-time arena, for instance, that that meant that all real-time captioners had to be certified from an organization like NCRA or something like that. In order to be able to do real-time captioning. Our personal experience has been that some of our very best captioners are not certified as such and so the term certification costs us a little bit of grief.

MR. HUTCHINS: OK. But maybe if it’s an industry group of captioners, not necessarily the NCRA, that certification could be something down the road, but you don’t want to commit to it yet?

PARTICIPANT: Or the company can be certified.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think we’ll stay with the earlier language. Just cross that bullet out. Stay with the earlier language about setting standards for preparation – the practice of captioning. And know that that also, if you have standards for its practice, then you have ways of measuring its practitioners. Is really what it comes down to. Whether you choose to rate them or not, you now have the means to do so. So, that’s good enough. All right, hello. Tammie Shedd.

PARTICIPANT: They say history has a way of repeating itself and you told us that because of your absence at a meeting you were recommended to be co-chair of this meeting and you’ve done a great job so we nominated you to be the co-chair or chair of the group that is immediately appointed to study and report on the formation of an industry trade association. We agreed unanimously. And we further agreed that NCRA may be a help in doing that type of research but the group unanimously agreed that we should not fall under the auspices of NCRA. The group should report back to the formation of a trade industry association, the group of at least one. No later than December 1, because it’s our goal to meet NAB in April and therefore, at the same time, we think a group of at least one should be appointed to contact NAB and find out how we can get on their agenda.

Then the second step is to form this trade association and meet NAB in April of 2003, and this trade association will include captioning companies, broadcasters, NCRA, consumers, educators, hardware/software vendors, and they can have different types of memberships just like in many trade associations. Am I going too fast?

MR. HUTCHINS: Every word.

PARTICIPANT: Getting it all?

MR. HUTCHINS: You guys didn’t come with any detail for your plan?

PARTICIPANT: I was waiting –

PARTICIPANT: You summarized your chart.

MR. HUTCHINS: I can summarize it but it’s not going to have my name on it. Because, no, actually, it’s very flattering, thank you, I take it as a compliment and I thank you. But, my name shouldn’t be attached to whether it’s a good idea to do it or not. If people think that that’s important, to do the association and so on, I think, regardless of who runs it, it’s a separate issue.

PARTICIPANT: The only reason we said that was because we felt like the work needed to be done quickly and researching how an association is set up is probably not that much work. But you are not working full time.

MR. HUTCHINS: I see all the people in the industry laughing and all the consumers looking at me like, what the hell is she talking about?

PARTICIPANT: The best part is the pro bono part.

MR. HUTCHINS: So this is the pro bono part.

PARTICIPANT: It doesn’t have to be you.

MR. HUTCHINS: And actually, we’ll talk about that later. We’ll see how bruised and bloody I feel by the end of the day, whether it’s something I want to do or not, but it’s important to do it no matter who runs it.

PARTICIPANT: So the first recommendation was to form Jeff in a group to study and report on formation of an industry trade association so we know how to do it.

MR. HUTCHINS: I think that’s part of the process of starting an association.

PARTICIPANT: And do it by December 1.


PARTICIPANT: The second recommendation –

PARTICIPANT: Do we want to modify the first one?


PARTICIPANT: The second recommendation was to, since we want to meet in April in NAB to have somebody contacting NAB to find out what we need to do to make this happen, because if we wait until December or January, it’s too late.

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s still part of the process of going through this –

PARTICIPANT: OK. And the third thing was to form the trade association and have a meeting in April of 2003.

MR. HUTCHINS: Again, I would say those are three related things but you might want to put that on – when we tack it up, we’ll just right “meet at NAB” as a kind of a goal for it. Because NAB, for those of you who don’t know, it’s the National Association of Broadcasters. It happens every April in Las Vegas. It fills two convention centers, two of the largest in the world. So it’s an enormous show. It’s a place where a lot of the people in the television industry meet and often captioners will go there. So what Tammie is suggesting is we set a timeline of April by which to meet. And find a good common place to do it which is probably NAB.

PARTICIPANT: The reason we selected NAB Is so we can go where the broadcasters are. Did you want to add to that –

PARTICIPANT: I have a question in regards to what Tammie is stating in relationship to what we have already down. We’re talking about under a different auspices here. We’re talking about actually creating a separate group. Not under the auspices of NCRA. I’m wondering, should that go up on the board?

MR. HUTCHINS: Yes, being – I don’t think – where does it say NCRA? I don’t think it does anywhere, so I don’t think we’re committed to or against NCRA.

PARTICIPANT: Recommendation number two, though.

PARTICIPANT: We accept the offer.

MR. HUTCHINS: Right. We’re voting on that separately.

PARTICIPANT: That’s fine. OK.

MR. HUTCHINS: Which I think is good to separate that out. Because it may or may not be that this group wants to work with them. They’re a great organization and voting not to work with them doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

PARTICIPANT: We’re not saying not work with them, we definitely want them part of the group.

MR. HUTCHINS: Everyone has a clear understanding of those bullets?

PARTICIPANT: We have accept the offer/work with NCRA. Do you want to specifically say “under the auspices of” or separate that?

PARTICIPANT: I think it’s clear.

PARTICIPANT: Just checking.

PARTICIPANT: Jeff. I’ve been sitting quietly –

MR. HUTCHINS: I noticed.

PARTICIPANT: I would not want to overstate the offer that NCRA has made, nor am I backing away from it. But I think everybody should understand clearly that NCRA as an existing organization has an existing constituency that overlaps significantly with the group we’re talking about, but is by no means identical in its interests and causes. I believe, and I would be happy to discuss with anybody at any time a number of ideas about how NCRA, because it has established resources, expertise, as an association and association management as well as within the profession. Could facilitate and assist getting groups set up. I also have some ideas about how NCRA might provide management and association operations expertise to a group but I think it is also safe to assume, for any of you who are concerned, I do not take any offense at the idea that captioning companies and captioning consumers don’t want to be subsumed by or have to answer to a group that is predominantly court reporters. I can share with you that NCRA’s membership is probably equal uninterested in having, there are separate functions. There are ways to structure it where there may be some corporate relationship, or not. But I would hate to get too, sort of bollixed up, whether you’re trying to give the job to me or not. Because I think it’s way premature.

MR. HUTCHINS: You’re right. But is it fair to say from what you’ve just said, that NCRA is willing to work with this group in any way it chooses?

PARTICIPANT: We are strongly interested in doing that and as – we strongly believe that there is a need for a captioning industry trade association. Distinct from the need for captioners to have a professional association which is what NCRA is. And we are very interested in and think we have some ways we might be able to help accomplish that, but we are in no way sort of – I don’t have a proposal in my briefcase to circulate and it would take a while to circulate to get there.

PARTICIPANT: I think it’s been covered in some ways but you may want to articulate a bullet point. Agreeing on the elements of captioning that can be standardized, making sure we do look at all of the captioned media including home video, movies and theaters, Internet, as well as everything discussed here today.

PARTICIPANT: I think it’s largely in that standards and practices bullet. I think it’s – and understand that you will of your recommendations are part of the record of this conference. If we don’t exactly use your wording in the bullet today, the comments you’ve added will be part of the record and should be used by anybody who goes ahead and tries to implement the will of this conference.

PARTICIPANT: The last thing, number five is we recommended funding for research in two areas. One is reading comprehension and looking at verbatim versus reading rates. And two is style, consumer style preferences. Looking at colors, case, and all the other items that would fall under that.

MR. HUTCHINS: What is the specific – OK, we would like to do research or we would like to see more research. Do we have a specific – or do you have a specific recommendation that we can vote on. Because I want the actions we’re voting on to be reasonably specific, if we can. It may be that research is part of some other things that we do. Or, are you suggesting a specifics different way that we would –

PARTICIPANT: We were thinking if it’s possible, to recommend that funding come out of the Department of Education for more current research or if there’s a better way to recommend it that we’ll get the money really guaranteed fast that could be our recommendation.

MR. HUTCHINS: In other words, one of the other things a trade association of captioners might do would be to go to capitol hill and say, please allocate some money to the Department of Education to pay for this research because it’s important to us. And we might get an appropriation. So we don’t go to the Department Of Ed, I think and say, can you divert money that, they’ve been told how to spend it in most cases but rather, you might be in favor of legislation, possibly. I mean, again, as Mark says, premature but consider the possibility of legislation to promote that.

PARTICIPANT: That’s what I meant to say.

MR. HUTCHINS: I know. So, do we have that? Jo Ann?

PARTICIPANT: Lobby Congress for funds?

PARTICIPANT: That was number five.

MR. HUTCHINS: Lobby Congress for funds for research. That’s great. Wow. And, as expected, we don’t – I don’t think we have 10. Different recommendations from the five different groups. I did get every group, right? We got all five? It’s time to – I think everybody understands the issues. We’re going to take these pages to the back. Take a moment and then, each of you vote. We’re going to give you 10 minutes to vote. At 5: 25, we’re going to – well, I don’t have to announce it, we’re going if to see it, you’ll stand here and see it. You’ll know what’s important and we’ll talk about what we’re doing going forward.

PARTICIPANT: Yes. [Inaudible]

MR. HUTCHINS: I think – I think that’s the next step. In other words, if we say we want a trade association, we better start to then think more specifically about what we mean by that. I think if we define it very narrowly for the vote, we could end up where a lot of people think we need an association. They may not want to vote for a specific way it’s constituted. So the next step is, take these and work on whatever we vote on. But we’re going to ask you to vote. You got four dots, same as earlier. If you want to put all four votes on one action, that’s the most important, do it. At the end of this conference, at the end of 15 minutes from now, we will know what we hope to do. As group. – As a group. So, get these post the on the back?

MR. HUTCHINS: This is what you have said and many people came up to me and said – this is lots of flaws. We covered a lot of ground in one day and we hopefully had a little bit of fun doing that. And now, what you said flaws and all, I wouldn’t worry too much bit because as I look at these results, I realize that the number one thing clearly you want to do is to form a trade association and you all have ideas about how that might be. Clearly, we’re going to have to have an organizational meeting. Somebody’s going to have to organize it if there will be a trade association. That means learning how to be one, deciding how – who you affiliate yourself with this if anyone, because you can be an association within an association. It happens all the time. We don’t need to vote on those details today.

The number one thing you said is you want a trade association. That’s very clear. The other thing that is – well, it is a tie, encourage the FCC to ensure compliance with the rules already on the book. It is a tie. Encourage the FCC to ensure compliance. There are a number of rules that the FCC has not been given the teeth to necessarily do everything they’d like to do, and that’s why what we need to do is petition them, and that is obviously something an association would be better to organize than to be all out on our own trying to figure out what’s happening. So, I think what I see regularly in the vote is that many of you have said, let’s get the association formed, let’s tell them for sure that we want to see compliance with the rules, and almost everything else is far behind where you’re assuming that those are the things the association is going to do. You expect that any trade association worth its salt to represent captioners is going to accept the NCRA’s offer, if that is the best way to organize it.

You can assume they will try to get this done in the year 2002, and I think that’s why some of those things got very few votes. You can assume that they are going to say, look, the group in Fairfax, Virginia, really said pretty strongly they’d like to see some research. We heard that from many speakers today. Everything that’s happened today is recorded on videotape and in a printed transcript. And so, there is a record. We’ll know why we voted the way we voted, and if there’s a trade association, it will act according to the things you’ve already outlined, and then it will bring you back together and say, what do you think? How do we proceed next? Number three voted item was to define a single point of contact. And clearly that is in the same vein as having an association, that is to say, people need to know where to go to get help, whether a producer, whether you’re a consumer, there should be a database of information someplace and a way to get at that database and to contact people that can help if I have a problem with captioning. Whatever it is.

And then the last two that you’ve said, and obviously everything on there is important, you’ve already told us that, but the top vote getter, the top five vote getters were the three I just outlined and petition the FCC to expand real-time news beyond just the top 25 markets, and that does effectively mean eliminating ENR, at least for local news production. It doesn’t mean you can’t go farther and decide to eliminate ENR for everything. It just says, we want to get rid of it at least for local news production, and beyond that is something to consider for the future. I would actually tell you that ENR can be a very useful tool to some producers, no need to take it out of their hands, but that’s not a decision to make today.

And the last thing you voted for was to set standards for the practice of captioning. If you think back to this morning, we said very early right after lunch, standardized operating procedures is important to us. That was actually the top issue, the most important issue, so I think that that gets settled pretty nicely in here. We said, let’s set standards, some group, and probably it will be this same trade association will organize committees that will start to talk about how you set standards. So, I just have to say, I think you’ve done a terrific job of pointing to exactly where this industry needs to go in the immediate future. You’ve agreed this morning that there are some problems. You actually surprised me by saying some things weren’t really problems to you.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you never worry about them. It means you’re not going to worry about them first. You know what you want to do first, and you want a trade association to do it for you, or through which you can help do it. And I think that’s an admirable thing to be voted for. I have been a captioner 29 years, and it’s time. It’s time for this industry to associate. It is time for us all to grow up and learn to talk together and live together and share information together, to set technical standards, if we need them, to set captioner standards if we need them.

You’ve made a wise vote today for the future of captioning, in my opinion. And I hope that we’ll go forward now to dinner and figure out how to start the process tonight, of how we’re going to form that association. I appreciate the fact that someone thinks that perhaps I could do that, but I don’t want – I think that’s very presumptuous of me, and I will not presume that that is something this group wants, even though a few people very flatteringly said so. And I’m grateful for that, but there are other people in this room who know how to run associations and how to – and they know a lot about captioning.

PARTICIPANT: How about calling for a show of hands?


MR. HUTCHINS: Yeah, I’m not winning. How many people want somebody else? I don’t know. Why don’t you guys – I’m very embarrassed. Jo Ann, you’re going to have to take over. I can’t talk about this.

PARTICIPANT: Tammie has a question back here.

PARTICIPANT: A question back here.

PARTICIPANT: Can I ask a question that won’t embarrass you?


PARTICIPANT: We have an order form for ordering the tapes, and I’m just wondering if, instead of the tapes, if you would rather have a transcript, is there a way to order the transcript?

MR. HUTCHINS: I wanted to make sure we have a transcript before I offer one for sale. I detected a little of that in you, too, Mitch. Are you a New Yorker originally? Mitch Turbin, are you from New York originally?

MR. TURBIN: Why do you ask, before I answer it?

MR. HUTCHINS: You just answered my question. Okay. I don’t know. A transcript, I guess, you know, we’ve done a great job of captioning today, don’t know why we couldn’t get a transcript together. I don’t know what it will cost to produce it.

PARTICIPANT: Post it on the Web site, Jeff.

PARTICIPANT: Post it somewhere, and let us know.

MR. HUTCHINS: I’ll just send an E-mail to everybody. I have everybody’s E-mail address. I think I have them all. I will let you know how to get one, and they’ll send it to you electronically, but direct, rather than through a Web site, so it is reasonably secure. You all paid to be here. I think you should all get a free transcript, and what I am saying, I may charge nonattendees to get one.

PARTICIPANT: Just a clarification, I thought it would be helpful – not to embarrass you – but to know whether this group were to ask that you be a chair, if that was something you would consider. If you wouldn’t consider it, there’s no point in us discussing that.

MR. HUTCHINS: I was afraid someone would actually ask me, because yes, I would be willing – I would be willing to consider it, but I’m going away October 1st for two weeks, so if you give me a real tight deadline, I couldn’t even consider doing it. I love captioning, I’ve been in it for 29 years, and if I can help form the association, I’d be happy to do that. And after that, you may choose someone else to lead it, if you wish. I don’t want to commit to going beyond just helping create it. Jerry?

PARTICIPANT: Two of the five groups recommended in some way a measure of participation in the next meeting, the trade association planning meeting.

MR. HUTCHINS: Right, I think that’s wise.

PARTICIPANT: And before we leave this forum today, I think it is extremely important to define what the membership is going to be for the next meeting. And at the next meeting, perhaps that membership or that group of participants could define what the organization would look like from that point forward.

MR. HUTCHINS: Would you say that it might be a good idea to have a committee of this conference, some self-selecting group, people can volunteer, we won’t be exclusive or elite, let anybody volunteer who wants to participate in the organizational aspect, have a designated leader who communicates to everybody in that, and make sure that all of those people want to be involved are involved, and then let that committee make some recommendations to the full group, either by E-mail or in a future – in future conferences? Is that reasonable?

PARTICIPANT: I think that’s an excellent approach. I would like to caveat that and take one exception to that and that would be to allow a volunteering participant, if it’s a caption provider, to further select one of their advisory board members who may not have volunteered at the time to participate.

MR. HUTCHINS: Okay. Everybody like that idea? Okay. So, that’s up to the companies to do it that way. I will be getting an E-mail out probably to everybody, and I’ll have a conference report, and I’ll say, well, who thinks they want to be part of an organizational meeting? And then I’ll take it from there, depends on how many names surface. If you all surface, we’re screwed. Joe? Yeah, Joe.

MR. KARLOVITS: Our group spent a lot of time discussing the whole organizational aspect of it and who would be involved, and, you know, kind of like a kickoff meeting, and there’s a lot of discussion that went back and forth, and our recommendation, which we presented to the group, I think is a wise one, and that is that each company, if they wish, who is in attendance at this meeting, would attend that organizational meeting. One representative. And also one designated consumer from that group. And the reason why is, one, it’s an expensive situation to travel to a meeting, wherever that would be. I would assume we could have that in this area. Mark, would you be willing to help us organize that meeting here in Washington?

MR. GOLDEN: I will provide a facility.

MR. KARLOVITS: There you go.

MR. HUTCHINS: That may be just –

MR. KARLOVITS: That was our thing, the group can do whatever they want. We want it to be fair, with everybody here, and we also thought that if you had this organizational meeting, then there would be committees selected among that group to go out and do, you know, the bullet-point items that you need to organize. And I really love Tammie’s idea about having a formal meeting at NAB I think that’s the way to go. And that should be our –

MR. HUTCHINS: I think that’s a great timeline to use, I agree. Jay, you had a comment before.

PARTICIPANT: I have two points. One was, I do think that you can’t leave here without having a point of action, like a committee, and the second one, I think the top two items on these two white sheets are very similar, and I would recognize for the record that I think those two put together are the same and may be a higher level item than the last one, but that was it.

MR. HUTCHINS: That’s good to know, and for whatever group that moves ahead, they will duly note that. I liked Joe’s idea, but let’s hear – we have a couple more hands up. Richard?

PARTICIPANT: I’d like to – for Joe’s idea perhaps with the clarification or the suggestion that – I mean obviously an organizational meeting is a wonderful idea, if it incorporates the maximum number of companies and representatives in the spirit of equity and, of course, maximum input. I think we should have ideas of quorum or minimum number who may participate before we have such an organizational meeting. That’s just an idea and a technical point, but I don’t expect us, for example, to replicate this meeting for the purpose of an organizational meeting. Perhaps we should think about how many people we would want to have.

MR. HUTCHINS: I thought Joe just said one employee and one consumer from each company here today?

PARTICIPANT: That’s true, but in terms of the number of people who may attend that meeting. For example, if we had five or seven companies attending with their representatives, would that be the necessary group of critical mass before we had such a meeting?

MR. HUTCHINS: You want to know how big – how many companies have to participate before we feel we have a quorum, if you will, a minyan, to go ahead and say, OK, yeah, we are – we’re serious.

PARTICIPANT: Absolutely.

MR. HUTCHINS: I would agree. I think if not enough companies come forward, that says something about, you know, an inability to put our money where our mouth is. And I believe there was one other comment back there. No? Okay, I would like to suggest that we’ve had enough for one day. And I see tired faces, tired bodies, and let’s go, nourish ourselves in the knowledge that we are going to follow up, that every company is being asked to get to me the name of your one appointed – your designated employee and your designated consumer, and I would like that information by September 30th. It shouldn’t take – you might even be able to give me that name tonight. Make sure you write it. I will not remember any names you tell me. Richard?

PARTICIPANT: Jeff, can we clarify the time frame – maybe I missed that – as to when it is likely this organizational meeting could take place?

MR. HUTCHINS: I couldn’t tell you, but if I am going to be the one putting it together, it would most likely be, I have to guess, early November. I think we need two months to organize it, to find a venue, people to buy their tickets and not spend a fortune to be there, to decide, do we come back to virginia or Washington, D.C. area? Mark has offered a facility where we could hold it. That would be good enough for me because that will save the group a lot of money if we don’t have to rent a place, but hotels cost money, et cetera. So, how about I find out who is interested in meeting, first, and then we’ll take the pulse of that group and find out where they would most like to meet, and we will go from there. And with that happy note of consensus, I am hereby adjourning the first Caption Quality Initiative conference. Thank you for coming.


MR. KARLOVITS: I know Jeff is my former partner here, and he doesn’t want a lot of gratitude from us, but I just think that he has done a tremendous job in organizing this whole affair. And I think we should give him a round of applause.

MR. HUTCHINS: Thank you. I have some thank-yous. I want to thank a few people that I couldn’t have done this without. Obviously, a lot of people here today, Bill McGill, the engineer for NCI, Lisa Greenberg and Kathy DiLorenzo, the captioners. Our three interpreters– Felicia Munford, Mark and Susan Leitson– and those who put a lot of time in to help me with the minutiae and the dirty work of getting this thing done, calling the hotel, browbeating them, a lot of little things. That was Laura Doty of Vitac who helped with that, and so did Terri Holman of Vitac, but I especially want to say something to the person to my left, because she has not just helped with this conference, which is historic in what it has just accomplished, but she has been an historic part of captioning for many, many years, and nobody in the room knew that this was going to happen, except me. So, Jo Ann, you can accept this, because it comes with love, and it says “Jo Ann McCann, 9-14-2002, for Distinguished Service in Support of Accessible Television.” Jo Ann, thank you.

MS. McCANN: I just told Jeff he just embarrassed the hell out of me. That’s right, I’m really tough. Go to dinner. Go to dinner. Thank you all. You are the ones that make it happen. You’re the ones that sit there where rubber meets the road and the consumers read the feedback, and from day one, you’re the ones that made it happen. You’re the ones that make it possible for us to have this meeting, to move forward and have exciting things, and you’re the ones that make it possible that we believe that we can plan for the future and make good things happen for the consumers. And I thank you, every one of you. Thank you.