WTMD hosts NPR’s live Election Night captioned-coverage for deaf and hard of hearing
November 4 broadcast part of initiative to make radio more accessible for millions of consumers
TOWSON, Md. (Oct. 21, 2008)—On Election Night some of Maryland’s deaf and hard-of-hearing people will be able to experience live radio coverage for the first time, when National Public Radio (NPR), Harris Corp. and TU simulcast the first live, captioned radio broadcast. NPR News’ extensive Election Night coverage will be simulcast in the new captioned radio format, providing accessible news and journalism to deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.
On the TU campus, members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community will gather to experience, and to assess their experience of, live coverage of the presidential election. On November 4, between 8-11 p.m. ET, Boston’s WGBH’s Media Access Group stenocaptioners will be monitoring NPR's live coverage and creating instantaneous speech-to-text transcriptions. These transcriptions will then be routed to NPR in Washington, D.C., which will transmit the feed via the Public Radio Satellite System to KCFR Denver, WAMU Washington, D.C., WGBH Boston, and WTMD Baltimore as well as on a captioning demonstration page on www.npr.org.
The broadcast will be coordinated by NPR, Harris Corp. and TU as part of an initiative to make radio more accessible to the millions of consumers with sensory disabilities around the world. Nearly 7 million people in the United States are either deaf or hard of hearing, and more than 28 million Americans report having trouble with their hearing, according to Gallaudet University.
At each live demonstration, which will be closed to the general public, invited deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals will view different representations of captioned radio via the HD broadcast and Web distribution and rate the usefulness of the experience. Those who access the demonstration page on www.npr.org will also be asked to answer questions about their experience. Results will guide the technology’s refinement, and help prepare for the eventual commercial launch of the technology as early as 2009.
The election broadcast is the latest event coordinated by the International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), which is headquartered at TU. Founding members also include NPR and Harris Corp. TU houses the primary administrative and academic research office for the initiative, NPR Labs in Washington, D.C., provides the technology R&D and software development, and Harris Corp. supplies the transmission and research support at its radio broadcast technology center in Cincinnati.
“This broadcast will not only provide deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers with accessibility to radio content, but it will also allow us to assess their reactions to the prototype service,” said Ellyn Sheffield, TU assistant professor of psychology at and co-director of ICART. “We plan to conduct assessments with consumers watching this telecast to gain critical insights into how we can make display radio even better.
"We will also collect information from people viewing NPR’s election coverage over the Internet feed. All of this feedback will add to our growing understanding of what consumers want and need when they turn on their digital radio.”