Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) – hosting the National Technical Institute for Deaf students (NTID) – is optimising its realtime lecture captions with help from Microsoft. With deaf student demographics shifting to realtime captioning, by 2016 the number of lecture-captioning hours at RIT grew by 58% to 24,335 – up from just 15,440 hours in 2007.
Microsoft’s AI-Powered Real-Time Captions
RIT’s Fifty Years With Deaf Students
Greater automation of RIT’s captioning, transcribing and C-Print systems was needed to retain the institute’s lead in instructional and communication technologies. Since NTID established in 1998 as a “Grand Experiment” for deaf students at third level, campus students get mentored into doctoral programmes and graduate with optimal workplace skills.
Today, RIT’s 1500 deaf and hard-of-hearing students can use Microsoft’s Translator for Education with Presentation Translator, to access lecture captions on mobile phones, tablets and laptops. This emerging ‘cognitive’ service accepts spoken vocabulary, technical terms and jargon for students to understand and cross-reference as they sit in lecture rooms.
The captioning technology emerged from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services ‘garage’ project, which developed the Custom Speech Service for Microsoft Translator to provide app-based one-on-one translation for two speakers of different languages to understand one another.
STEM Access At Cornell University
Cornell University, tester of online, remote realtime captions, is starting a five-year Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) to bring graduates from ethnic and other minorities into research and doctoral programs. Students who are deaf and hard of hearing will receive mentoring, oral presentation, leadership, networking and social integration skills, to contribute their abilities within the academic, innovation and entrepreneurial areas.