Any real-time captioning programs for Windows suitable for classroom use?

I travel around the country teaching several classes where I use PowerPoint slides. For the first time, I will soon have a hearing-impaired student. Our obligation would be to accommodate the student by using a sign-language interpreter or some equivalent method.

Using an interpreter would be quite expensive, since the classes are 8 hours a day for 2 days.

I’m hoping that we can identify some captioning software that would allow me to wear a wireless mic connected to a local computer and then display the text/captions in real-time (with a slight delay, of course). I can use a second, dedicated computer and display, if necessary. Cost is really not an issue, since it will cost far more to hire an interpreter than even the course fee charged to the student. It would make sense to invest in software and hardware for captioning, since we can use it for other hearing-impaired students in future courses.

I have serious hearing loss myself, so I am very sympathetic and want to provide the best accommodations possible.

Does anyone have any suggestions? And I apologize in advance because I will not be able to check back on the SDMB for at least three or four days after posting this. Trust me…I will get back to check on your comments ASAP.

And I do realize that using a CART service (combination of hardware, software, and an actual person) usually provides the best results, but these are generally small groups (8 to 12 students) and I don’t think that it’s feasible to use CART.

Maybe a combination of Dragon Naturally Speaking and a captioning program?

Since this is asking for advice, it’ll fit better in IMHO than in GQ.

[Not moderating]
If you do use a program like this, I would want to make sure that you can see the captioning as it comes up, so that you know if the program makes a bad mistake, and can correct it. Also note that it’ll probably be a good idea to train the program to your voice before you use it for real.

Thank you.

And, yes, I have no doubt it will take some time to train the software with practice presentations and lectures.

The best thing to do is discuss it with people who have experience of communicating with the deaf.


I’ve used a CART service for several years for a large political Convention.
It worked really well, both for hearing-impaired people, but also for many others who were bothered by the constant noise in the Convention hall – the captioning allowed them to understand what was going on, even if their neighbors made too much noise to hear. (3-4 thousand people make enough noise just whispering to each other to interfere with most sound systems.)

One suggestion if you do this: provide the CART person in advance with a list of unique & unusual terms that are likely to be used in your field, so that she will recognize them & spell them right. We didn’t do that the first year, and had several instances where the CART person seriously mis-spelled the names of elected officials – that led to inappropriate laughter, and once even angry yells. Next Convention we provided a cheat sheet of names & elected offices of people who were likely to be mentioned in speeches, and that helped a lot.

Also, consider asking the CART company if they will give a reduced rate for a non-profit educational course. You might have to give them a receipt for a donation of the value of that, but it’s a possibility. (We’ve had such donations a couple of times, but it was a personal donation from the CART person doing the captioning, because she supported our candidates.)