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Transcribing remotely in Zoom, Collaborate/Blackboard, Adobe Connect, or other online platforms

Real-Time transcribing can be provided for live classes or meetings that take place online, regardless of which videoconferencing platform is used.  As long as the TypeWell transcriber can access the audio from the class or meeting, they can stream the text to the reader(s) either through the remote conferencing platform itself or in a web browser.

Key questions and considerations for transcribing online classes:

  • How will the transcriber gain access to the videoconferencing platform (like Zoom or Blackboard)?
  • Does your organization's videoconferencing platform require a login and password?  If so, does it restrict participants to only those with certain email accounts (for example, @yourschool.edu)?  If so, how can you work around this so the transcriber can be added to the meeting as a participant?  Some schools have created a special email account for their transcribers to be able to log in (e.g., "transcriber @ yourschool.edu"), while others have worked with IT to allow non-school email addresses to participate.
  • It is more important for the transcriber to have access to the audio than the video.  If your videoconferencing platform has the option to allow participants to join via web/app or via telephone, we recommend enabling BOTH options so the transcriber can fall back on telephone if something goes wrong with the web/app audio connection.
  • Some videoconferencing platforms allow transcribers to type directly into a "captioning" window, but this feature typically comes with some limitations.

Should we use the built-in "captioning window" in our videoconferencing platform?

Based on our own testing and the experience shared by many of our users, we actually recommend not using these built-in captioning features, even though they might sound ideal on the surface.  They can cause problems such as:

  • Transcribers might lose the full transcript if they're accidentally disconnected from the meeting.
  • If the host records the live meeting, the "captions" typically don't get incorporated into the recorded video as true "closed captions."
  • They don't support teaming more than one transcriber, which is often necessary for longer classes or meetings.

Instead, we recommend the following:

  • For Zoom, simply use TypeWell's Zoom Linking feature for 3rd party API integration for closed captioning.  This supports teaming more than one transcriber, and there's no risk of accidentally losing the transcript when the host ends the meeting.
  • For other platforms, the meeting participants can read the real-time transcript in a regular web browser using TypeWell's Web Linking service, which is our native streaming text platform that allows unlimited use for anyone with a Premium software license (which most TypeWell transcribers already have, and there are NO per-minute charges!).

Benefits of viewing the transcript in a separate browser:

  • The reader can resize the browser window and position it above/below or side-by-side with the videoconferencing window OR they can open the browser page on a separate monitor, tablet, phone, or another device.
  • The reader has access to the full transcript for the duration of the class or meeting.  If they look away from the screen for a moment, they can scroll back up to see what they missed—unlike with "captions" which appear on the screen for just seconds at a time and then disappear.
  • The reader can type a note or comment back to the transcriber when needed.
  • If teaming (more than one transcriber) with Web Linking, the transcribers can more easily and privately communicate with one another, to coordinate when to switch off or to "feed" each other missed information.