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Remote captioning

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Remote captioning is a service that deaf people can use to convert what is being said to written word. Often used by people who are not fluent in sign language, this service transmits an audio signal from a microphone near the deaf person to a typist at a remote location. The audio is converted into text and transmitted back to the deaf person in text on a computer screen. This translation can be done either verbatim or "meaning for meaning" in which the typist captions the main messages of what is being said. This service is an alternative to having an interpreter present in the room such as with ASL interpretation or Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) where the stenographer is present.

Internet or phone access is required for transmission of the data, as well as the necessary technology for detecting, transmitting, receiving, and displaying the text. Usually used in educational settings, the institution will usually cover the costs of these devices.


Because the transcriber is not present, they are unable to see any visual aids which may be in use, such as a chalkboard or powerpoint presentation.



This is a meaning-for-meaning system which works like the other systems with a remote transcriber. This system differs in that it can be used by up to 5 students in the same lecture, the student can take notes on the same machine they are receiving the text, and the student can type a phrase and the transcriber will send back audio of the phrase, allowing the student to take part in discussions if they are not otherwise able.


This service has a typist relay a meaning-for-meaning summary of what is being said to the user. Captionists type the meanings on a remote computer and it is displayed on a monitor in front of the student. Copies of the text are available so students do not have to take notes unless they desire.

Voice Recognition programs

Programs (like the newly publicly available Dragon which automatically detect speech and output the words without a human guiding it. These programs have some limitations in that occasionally the program may not understand due to tone, pace, etc. Also, these programs cannot function if more than one person is speaking, where a human interpreter would be able to distinguish which voice was which.

Comparative Costs

  • CART: $40-$75/hr, $15-$40 prep, $15-$40 editing
  • Remote captioning: $85-$250/hr
  • TypeWell: $12-$30/hr
  • Dragon: $50-$200

Companies Providing the Service