Thursday, February 7, 2008

HD Radio to Text: an Initiative for Persons with Hearing Impairments

Photo Credit: Wilson Rothman/GizmodoClosed captioning offers those with hearing impairments an easier way to enjoy broadcast media. Its downfall is accuracy; someone, namely the stenocaptioner, has to type all that is being said as well as provide descriptions of ambient sound.

If you're a person without a hearing impairment that has read the live CC from a newscast, or similar broadcast, and compared it to what is being said you know some things definitely get lost in translation. Text-to-speech software will change this, and possibly put some folks out of work, but we’re not quite there yet. So, for now, their jobs are safe.

HD Radio™ enables CC textual radio broadcasting using the same metadata technology that sends the artist and album info to your HD radio receiver. With stenocaptioners hard at work, talk radio can now be enjoyed by a much wider audience.

The deployment of this accessible radio initiative is led by a Harris Corp. and spearheaded by Mike Starling (vice president and chief technology officer of NPR). It was demonstrated, live at a press conference held at CES this year, by a multicast of NPR’s “Morning Edition”. The textual broadcast was shown on an HD Radio™ car receivers’ video display (pictured above).

HD receiver manufacturers are also working on improvements for visual impaired audiences, such as larger text, or announcements of stations and functions activated.

Hopefully, this seamless adaptive technology integration will set the stage for similar product rollouts, and one day electronics users, with disabilities, won’t have to specially address the adaptability of will just be there.

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