It has been another eventful and busy year at VITAC. In addition to captioning hundreds of thousands of hours of programming in 2020, we developed new accessibility solutions, unveiled a brand new website, shared thousands of articles and updates via our social channels, worked closely with consumers and advocates to provide the highest quality captions, and published ebooks, white papers, and more than five dozen news blogs.
But, looking back, 2020 undoubtedly was a year dominated by shifting norms and new realities for many as the global pandemic changed the way we went about our days and altered many of the things we took for granted, including work, family life, play, education, and entertainment.
However, one thing that didn’t change – and, in fact, became a louder topic of conversation over the past 10 months – was the ever-present need for greater accessibility and accessible communications.
With more people around the world working remotely or attending classes in a virtual setting, finding ways to communicate with co-workers, students, and teachers became crucial, and it was especially important that everyone was included in the conversation.
Our caption integration solutions made it easy to bring captions and accessibility to classrooms, remote meetings, and online conferences. We worked with a wide range of clients and brought captions to a variety of platforms, including Zoom Video, Cisco Webex, ON24, Digitell, and Adobe Connect, among others.
We, like other companies, monitored the coronavirus and followed guidance from leading government and health authorities to ensure we took all necessary precautions. We also made sure we were here 24/7 for our clients and caption viewers, and stood ready to help with any captioning and accessibility needs.
VITAC continues to provide a vital, essential public service during this pandemic. We know that you depend on us for accessible communications, and that’s never more crucial than during emergency situations and times of crisis. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously.
We promise to continue offering the same easy, user-friendly solutions that you’ve come to expect from us. As always, we are here for you, and we will continue to do our best to serve you in this new year.
So as we close the book on 2020, we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of our most popular news items from the past year.
Introducing the New VITAC.com
We were thrilled to roll out the new VITAC.com. As you likely have noticed, the revamped site features new content and images, updated service offerings, captioning instructions, tutorials, and easy-to-read pages that will help you find what you’re looking for and understand how we can help you reach your accessibility goals. The website was designed with you in mind, and provides a better user experience regardless of whether you’re viewing on a desktop PC, tablet, or mobile device.
VITAC Acquires SOVO Technologies
In October, VITAC acquired Montréal, Canada-based SOVO Technologies, a leading provider of captioning and transcription services to clients in North America and Europe. The acquisition strengthened our position as a leader in the captioning and communications accessibility industry, and immediately enhanced our live, offline, and transcription service offerings. It also extended our ability to handle a growing number of client demands and service requests and bolstered our French language capabilities.
Captions with a Human Touch
● A webinar hosted by the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes discussed whether captions created by auto speech recognition (ASR) software effectively accommodated members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The key takeaway? Though ASR technology has improved, it doesn’t match the quality of captions provided by human captioners and speech-to-text professionals − and individuals who are deaf are paying the price.
● In recognition of February’s Court Reporting and Captioning Week, we looked at the differences between captions created by skilled, professional captioners, like those at VITAC and other captioning companies, and those created solely by ASR programs. You didn’t have to look too far to find them.
VITAC Ebook Explains How Captions Can Grow Your Business
Our ebook − “A Guide to Corporate Captions (Or Everything You Wanted to Know About Captions But Were Afraid to Ask)” – looked at the ins and outs of closed captioning, how captions and multi-language subtitles help corporations, and the cost (both financial and reputational) of ignoring accessible communications. It’s written for people new to the captioning world as well as more experienced users interested in learning about the hidden benefits of captions, including increased SEO rankings and instant transcripts from any meeting or event.
FCC Updates Audio Description Requirements, Networks; Offers ENT Toolkit
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) OK’d a plan to expand its audio description requirements to an additional 40 designated market areas (DMAs) over the next four years.
The FCC currently requires certain broadcast stations in the top 60 DMAs to provide access to audio-described programming. The new requirements will phase in an additional 10 DMAs each year for four years, beginning this month.
● The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turned 30 in 2020! The first comprehensive civil rights legislation addressing and granting basic accessibility needs for people with disabilities, the act dramatically changed – and improved – the social and political landscape of the United States. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that some of the rights and benefits that we now take for granted didn’t exist or were difficult to come by just three decades ago. Among other things, the ADA ensures fair employment practices and equal access to jobs, physical access to all public and many private spaces, accessible communications, adequate housing, and accessible public transportation.
● This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). Signed into law in October 2010, the CVAA increased access to modern communications for people with disabilities. It made sure that accessibility laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s were brought up to date with 21st century technologies, including new digital, broadband, and mobile innovations. Whereas the Americans with Disabilities Act addressed such things as wheelchair access, the CVAA addressed web access. Instead of access ramps, the CVAA provided online ramps to a fast-growing digital and online world.
Preparation, Research are Keys to Accurate Captions
Our realtime captioners create captions for a variety of live television programs, including local, national, and cable news programs as well as breaking news updates. And, often, the dialogue between newscasters moves quickly, with new speakers, clips, reports, and unique terms introduced throughout the broadcast. But one step captioners take to help ensure top-notch, accurate captions is to thoroughly prepare for each individual job. VITAC captioners do their research before each broadcast, looking up key names and terms that they anticipate will pop up during the program, and keeping abreast of current news and events.
And that wraps up our countdown of the top blogs of 2020! Keep an eye on our blog throughout 2021 as we look forward to keeping readers informed of the latest VITAC news and industry happenings. Stay tuned!