AppTek and Gallaudet University Announce Partnership to Ensure Equality in the Videoconferencing Experience for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

AppTek announced today a partnership with Gallaudet University’s Technology Access Program (TAP) and its School of Science, Technology, Accessibility, Mathematics, and Public Health (STAMP) to develop a new user-centric application for providing the deaf and hard of hearing community with a more accessible and engaging videoconferencing experience. This application aims to provide greater access and optimize the user experience for all participants.

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@AppTek_McLean partners with @GallaudetU to develop a user-centric application for providing the deaf and hard of hearing community with a more #accessible and engaging #videoconferencing experience.

Gallaudet, as the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students, is uniquely qualified to understand and address the needs of this community. Gallaudet University’s project leaders, Dr. Christian Vogler and Dr. Raja Kushalnagar, will build on their long-term relationship with AppTek to co-develop a transcription and captioning application designed to work across web browsers and videoconferencing platforms.

The new application aims to provide videoconference participants with live closed captions and deliver more control of the user interface (UI), allowing users to enhance the readability of real-time conversation transcripts and enjoy a more meaningful flow of spoken content. The application also aims to incorporate other enhanced, customizable features backed by research evidence. AppTek and Gallaudet will engage directly with the community to ensure that these features are designed to address the unique needs of deaf and hard of hearing users.

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Dr. Christian Vogler, director of Gallaudet’s Technology Access Program, emphasized the importance of allowing the user to personalize the accessibility feature. He stated that “Deaf and hard of hearing people need to have control over their access options. This partnership is all about giving us that kind of control, and we are excited to make it happen.”

Integrating AppTek’s award-winning automatic speech recognition (ASR) platform, the application will incorporate the latest artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enable this assistive service, which will be available to users on demand. Over time, Gallaudet also intends to incorporate multilingual capabilities using AppTek’s Multilingual Automatic Speech Recognition and Neural Machine Translation technologies. AppTek’s ASR platform is readily adaptable for specialized subjects, speech dialects, and environments to meet a breadth of communication scenarios.

Mike Veronis, AppTek Chief Revenue Officer and Program Manager for the 21st Century Closed Captioning project, said that “While much of the world is relying heavily on videoconferencing applications to communicate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, commonly used applications unfortunately do not provide reliable, real-time capabilities that allow deaf and hard of hearing participants to engage fully. We are passionate about and humbled at the opportunity to collaborate with Gallaudet on bridging that gap by developing new tools to give the deaf community greater freedom, control, and access to virtual communication.”

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