TDI Two-Year Grant for Project in Captioning Services

Millions of individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing stand to benefit from highly-accurate, low-cost, captioning services thanks to a grant from Google.

T it can be used on any device that has a browser, speech recognition, and a microphone.ele-communications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), is pleased to announce its receipt of Google’s $500,000 Impact Challenge/Disabilities two-year grant for a project to create scalable access to affordable, accessible, and accurate captions for any live event by combining available speech-to-text technology with real-time caption corrections made by event-designated peers in addition to caption streaming via the internet.

TDI will subcontract with IDEAL Group, Inc. to develop the platform for the project. IDEAL will be using an open source code base to integrate the functionalities of using speech-to-text technology to generate and stream a live caption feed that can be corrected by event-designated participants. The web-based prototype is accessible using Android, iOS, and Windows-based mobile devices, as well as any computer equipped with a browser, speech recognition capabilities, and a microphone. When completed, the platform will offer the world’s first multilingual, speech-driven, cross-platform, real-time captioning/caption correction services.

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, and deaf-blind, and also those who have a second disability like mobility, are being disenfranchised because events they wish to participate in are not live captioned. A recent Johns Hopkins study (2012) cites that there are 48 million people that are deaf and hard of hearing in the USA, alone. Worldwide this number skyrockets to more than 360 million consumers.

Our project in action: it can be used on any device that has a browser, speech recognition, and a microphone.

While American Sign Language (ASL) is a good option for many deaf and hard of hearing individuals, there are others who are unable to benefit from ASL. These individuals include deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, deaf-blind, and/or having a second disability who lost their hearing early or late in life after acquiring speech, and have not regularly used ASL.

Many small organizations that host webinars, online courses, and other types of meetings are not able to afford live captioning (CART) services. The reason is that CART services can cost anywhere between $60- $200 per hour, depending on a variety of factors. TDI’s platform is being designed to fill this gap by providing high-quality, low-cost, captioning services in instances where the use of professional CART services are not logistically, technically, or financially possible. Our real-time text-streaming caption correction services will allow event participants (who have permission) to make corrections to captions in real-time during events. The corrections will be seen instantly by everyone viewing the captions, both locally and remotely.

Launched in May of 2015, the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities put $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities. Brigitte Gosselink, Head of the Google Impact Challenge | Disabilities said, “[We] set out to accelerate the use of technology to create meaningful change in the lives of the one billion people in the world with a disability.” She went on to say, “We’re thrilled to back Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. as they help build a world that works for everyone.”

Steve Jacobs, President of IDEAL Group, Inc. said, “We are thrilled to have been selected to develop this unique highly-advanced system and look forward to using our many years of development experience to benefit ten-of-millions of consumers in all corners of the world.”

Claude Stout, Executive Director of TDI stated, “TDI is thrilled and honored to have the Google grant to provide captioning support as an additional resource to deaf and hard of hearing Americans and their hearing contacts in their local communities. Also, with IDEAL Group’s support, TDI will seek to collaborate with key stakeholders in a number of countries to make good use of this service.”