Deaf and Hard of Hearing Positive on HD Radio Captioning


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Washington - Nov 13, 2008 - During the national elections held Nov. 4, 2008, some deaf and hard of hearing citizens were staying on top of the elections results through a captioned radio broadcast that used the data capacity of HD Radio. (Read the story here.) As the audience participants listened and read the broadcast, they were polled on their experiences with the technology.

More than three-quarters of the deaf and hard of hearing participants indicated they would be interested in purchasing captioned radio displays after watching live demonstrations of the technology at seven locations around the United States. The election night broadcast demonstrations were made possible by NPR, Harris and Towson University. The NPR broadcast was shown at private demonstrations at NPR's headquarters and Towson University in Towson, MD, along with five NPR member stations. At each of the demonstration locations, participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing completed out surveys in person or online to provide feedback on the technology.

Responses to surveys indicated that captioned radio will be a popular broadcast format for deaf and hard-of-hearing users:

  • 95 percent were happy with the level of captioning accuracy, a crucial aspect for readability and comprehension
  • 77 percent said they would be interested in purchasing a captioned radio display unit when it becomes available
  • 86 percent indicated they would be interested in purchasing a dual-view screen display for a car (which would enable a deaf passenger to see the captioned radio text while the driver listens to the radio).

    Demonstration participants also showed a strong desire to rely upon captioned radio in emergency situations. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extremely important, they ranked emergency notifications at 9.6 when asked what types of information would be important to receive through captioned radio broadcasts. General news came in second at 8.0.

    The survey also included a number of questions regarding format preferences, such as the speed of the scrolling text and the size of the text. The information will be used to improve future captioned broadcasts.

    Stenocaptioners from WGBH in Boston monitored NPR's live coverage and fed instantaneous speech-to-text transcriptions to the participating NPR stations and to NPR's website.

    The event was coordinated by the International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), which is headquartered at Towson University. Founding members also include NPR and Harris. Towson houses the primary administrative and academic research office for the initiative, NPR Labs in Washington provides the technology R&D and software development, and Harris supplies the transmission and research support at its radio broadcast technology center in Cincinnati.



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