The pandemic created a surge in working from home and in video conference meetings. More people than ever before are now attending meetings online, which has created some new challenges.
Running effective and productive meetings online is one such challenge. Meanwhile, making meetings accessible to everyone who is now attending them can be difficult, but is essential.
In this article, we discuss why using live subtitles for video conference meetings can help overcome both of these challenges.
What is live subtitling?
Live subtitling or live captioning places text on the screen for spoken dialogue, enhancing the viewing experience for audiences watching events on-screen.
In its online Digital Accessibility hub, Harvard University describes live captions as follows:
“Live captions convert audio dialogue and sounds into text that appears on a video in real time. They are commonly provided for events and meetings that are streamed over the internet or for in-person meetings.”
In the case of conference meetings, live subtitles or captions provide real-time text for viewers.
So why should companies and organisations running video conference meetings use live subtitles?
The most important reasons for providing live subtitles in online meetings
Harvard University also notes the most important reason for using live subtitles or captions for online events: accessibility.
“Live captions provide an inclusive meeting experience for participants who may not otherwise be able to hear speakers and sounds at the event. They provide access and benefit other attendees such as those who might have distractions or non-native English speakers.”
This isn’t the only reason to use live subtitles for online events though, but it is the most important one. You have a responsibility to create inclusive environments, and this includes online spaces and virtual rooms.
With video conference meetings, you typically know everyone who is attending – so you should have a good understanding of everybody’s needs. However, even if nobody attending your meetings now has accessibility needs, some may in the future, and because of this, having a system in place to cater for them needs to be considered.
For open events where people can sign up to attend, you will most likely not be aware of what accessibility needs could be present – so you have to prepare for all of them.
Hearing issues aren’t the only accessibility requirements either. Non-native English speakers attending online meetings will benefit from the reinforcement of subtitles, even in English.
Better yet, you can combine live subtitling and translation to provide a truly multilingual online experience for attendees.
Other reasons to use live subtitling for virtual meetings
Accessibility may be the most important reason to use live subtitling and captions, but it is not the only one.
When people can attend meetings from home – or anywhere else – they don’t always have control over their environment. Technical issues, connection problems, noise interference and a variety of other factors can hinder the viewing experience for attendees.
Providing live subtitles means nobody is reliant on audio alone to keep up with the conversation.
Humans also retain more information from text than audio and they retain even more when both are present. This explains why younger people are now watching content with subtitles turned on more than older viewers and generations.
Subtitles enhance the viewing experience, making it easier to understand everything that is said.
With audio-only viewing, it is far easier to mishear, misunderstand or simply not hear what someone is saying. This is true before you even factor in the myriad of potential technical issues that often come with hosting virtual meetings.
Subtitles leave little room for confusion, literally spelling things out for the viewer. Of course, this relies on the quality of live subtitles, so it is important to ensure you are achieving the right level of accuracy.
There are currently plenty of interesting AI tools and platforms like Zoom on the market that provide live subtitles. However, accuracy is a challenge for these tools and companies may need more robust solutions to deliver quality live subtitles.
Do you need live subtitles for your meetings?
If you need accurate subtitles for your meetings and online events, our team can help. Instead of relying on algorithms alone, we can also implement a dual system of AI machine translation and professional subtitling to deliver the speed and accuracy your project needs.
Call us on +44(0)20 7324 0950 or fill out the form on our contact page to discuss your project and subtitling approach.