New rules on lecture transcripts give academics an impossible choice – THE Campus (Emily Nordmann, et al | February 2022)

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Higher education leaders must engage on new transcription requirements post-pandemic to ensure academics don’t have to choose between inclusion or increased workload

While the pandemic hit our sector hard, for many there was a silver lining. Remote learning brought huge gains in accessibility – partly driven by the massive increase in recorded content such as lectures.

Around one in five people worldwide live with a disability. Not all of them are deaf, but many of them will require special support to be able to participate in educational activities. Irrespective of the justice arguments from providing transcriptions and other supports, a educational institution simply can’t afford to exclude a significant component of society.

For deaf students who usually lip-read and listen in class, the acoustic and visual environment for some was better online. The lecturer’s face was visible, and usually the sound quality was good for pre-recorded lectures. However, accurate captions were much more difficult for universities to achieve, and across the board staff and students have reported that the standard of transcripts generated by automatic speech recognition (ASR) is poor.

But it’s not just deaf students who struggle without accurate captions. Traditional, listening-only approaches present difficulties for students with neurodiverse conditions – approximately one in five – particularly those with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and attentional difficulties. Students studying in their second language also report finding transcripts hugely beneficial.

Around one in five people worldwide live with a disability. Not all of them are deaf, but many of them will require special support to be able to participate in educational activities. Irrespective of the justice arguments from providing transcriptions and other supports, a educational institution simply can't afford to exclude a significant component of society.

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