Live Professional Captions vs Live Automatic Captions (ASR)

Why Accuracy Matters More than You Think (but the solution isn’t cut and dry, it’s a hybrid approach)

Ready to make your organization’s communication accessible? Captions are a must. But with two options - live professional captions and live automatic captions — choosing the right one can be tricky.

Delving deeper than mere cost comparisons, we'll explore the hidden implications of each choice, helping you decide what truly aligns with your organization’s needs, values and goals — and the law.

Live Professional Captions: The Human Touch and Its Guarantee

Imagine a skilled stenographer, fingers flying across a keyboard, translating spoken words into real-time text. That's at the heart of live professional captioning. Trained professionals not only transcribe, but also grasp and convey context, nuance, and intent. They navigate accents, jargon, and even humor, ensuring captions stay true to the speaker's meaning.

Compliance Confidence: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) demands clarity, not guesswork. Live professional captioners, adept at complex legal and medical terminology, deliver 99% accuracy, the gold standard for legal compliance. This means peace of mind, knowing you're not just providing captions, but providing equity to all in your organization including Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and neurodiverse people.

Conquering Jargon: Technical jargon, industry acronyms – they're a minefield for machines. But professional captioners, versed in diverse fields, navigate these labyrinths, ensuring everyone, regardless of background, can follow the thread of the conversation.

Decoding Nuance: A simple pause can convey volumes. A raised eyebrow, a knowing smile, humor – these are the whispers a machine might miss, but a professional understands and translates, accurating capturing the message for everyone.

  • Pros: Highly accurate, capturing speaker intent and crucial words. Complies with ADA regulations by ensuring effective communication for Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
  • Cons: More expensive than automatic captions; may require scheduling coordination with captioners depending on the service (with Ava, scheduling an Ava Scribe can be immediate).

Live Automatic Captions: The Budget-Friendly (but Risky) Choice

If cost is your biggest concern, you may want to consider an automatic speech recognition (ASR) service, aka live automatic captions. However, inaccuracy often prevents ASR from being legally compliant, depending on the situation. 

Live automatic captions, often powered by artificial intelligence, might seem like a budget-friendly win. But hold on before you hit "go." Inaccuracy is often the hidden tax of AI, a tax that could land you in hot water.

While there's no official "gold standard" for live caption accuracy (at least not yet! Recent regulations are moving toward standardizing videoconferencing and live captions), aiming for broadcast-level 99% is the safe bet. Think crystal-clear captions, catching every nuance of every conversation. Why? Because for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, accurate captions are like oxygen.

The ADA demands "reasonable accommodations," which should include crystal-clear communication. Automatic captions with questionable and inconsistent accuracy just don't cut it. Imagine a live stream where jokes become jumbles, instructions turn into gibberish – it’s not exactly inclusive.

Think of it this way: skimping on accuracy could cost you more than just disgruntled viewers. Legal complaints, tarnished reputations, and hefty fines all lurk behind inaccurate captions.

  • Pros: Easier to schedule, cheaper than professional options.
  • Cons: Highly inaccurate (think 50-75% accuracy!), prone to misinterpretations and missing words. This puts ADA compliance at risk, as captions must be as close to verbatim as possible.

ADA Compliance: More than a Checkbox

Live professional captions, crafted by skilled humans are an investment in accessibility, clarity, and peace of mind. Remember, clear communication isn't just a legal obligation, it's the foundation of a truly inclusive and engaging experience for everyone.

You're choosing more than technology, you're choosing a message. Live professional captions convey respect, inclusion, and a commitment to clear communication — the foundation of a truly inclusive and engaging experience for everyone. While automatic captions offer a quick and inexpensive option, they can inadvertently send a message that your organization prioritizes cutting corners and convenience over accessibility.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires "auxiliary aids and services" for effective communication, including accurate live captions. Automatic captions often fall short, leaving your organization vulnerable to complaints and legal action.

Additionally, accurate captions benefit everyone, not just those who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing. They enhance understanding, improve engagement, and boost accessibility for your entire audience.

Beyond the Binary: Embracing Hybrid Solutions

The world of live captioning is evolving and smart organizations will see that it really isn’t a choice between ASR or professional captions. Solutions like Ava, with its Scribe professional captions option, offer a hybrid solution, combining the speed of automatic captions with the accuracy of human review.

When to use live professional captions:

  • For important meetings, where Deaf or hard-of-hearing users need to understand 99% or more of the words in a conversation and can easily participate, choose professional live captions. 
  • For classes that require 99% or more accuracy to understand the lecture and the context to learn subject matter, choose professional live captions.
  • For conferences, large events, and legally required scenarios: Choose professional live captions for guaranteed accuracy and ADA compliance.
  • For international meetings.
  • For small, internal meetings with no accommodation requests: Live auto captions might suffice.

Ava live captions are simple and reliable, offering best-in-class ASR technology with live professional captioners or Scribes for the highest possible accuracy. The captions seamlessly integrate with operating systems, browsers, and videoconferencing services, and include custom features like vocabulary boost to make communication accessible to all.

Investing in accuracy isn't just about legal compliance, it's about building a truly inclusive and engaging experience for all. With Ava, you can achieve both without breaking the bank.

Ready to make your organization accessible? Contact Ava today!