Despite objections, U of M will replace in-house captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing community

A group at the University of Minnesota is working to protect certain services for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Next week, the university will eliminate “internal captioning”. A petition against this decision has collected hundreds of signatures, but the U of M stands by its decision.

Sina Hanson has been at the University of Minnesota since 2004.

“It’s a wonderful place,” said C-Print captionist Hanson.

Hanson currently works as an in-house captionist to assist students and faculty in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“I go to classes, meetings or events with a laptop and I type all the audible information, so whatever someone says and any sounds or environmental contexts, I type on a screen and the text scrolls” , said Hanson.

But his time at university may soon be coming to an end.

“It will completely remove a system intended to provide access that was established for a reason,” Hanson said.

Hanson learned from the university that she and six of her colleagues would be out of work later this month because the U of M is moving to full use of outside providers for captioning.

“It’s the difference between being able to engage and have equitable access and essentially being discriminated against,” Hanson said.

The University of Minnesota calls it a “tough” decision, but added, “In the experience of the Disability Resource Center, students generally prefer this text captioning provided by providers.”

The union representing these employees, AFSCME Local 3937, says it’s all about the money.

“They told us how much money they were going to save,” said Mary Austin, president of AFSCME Local 3937.

The University of Minnesota acknowledged the cost savings, but pointed out that these providers already provide 70% of their captioning in real time and believe that continuing the transition will result in “very accurate captioning services “.

Hanson disagrees, saying the serve will most certainly take a hit.

“If the provider misses it, they don’t caption that information, then the captioning user has a different experience than everyone else in the room,” Hanson said.

The changes are expected to take effect on August 15.

The U of M provided the following statement:

“Although the transition to full use of real-time captioning services provided by providers was a very difficult decision, from August 15, the DRC experience shows that students generally prefer this sub – textual title provided by suppliers. This transition will not only meet the service expectations of these students in the future, it will result in highly accurate captioning services and cost savings that will allow for the reallocation of resources to programs that promote the accessibility of proactively, programs supporting: inclusive education, accessible classrooms and workplaces, digital accessibility and other high-impact strategies to promote inclusive access – priorities that make the DRC the reference in this field.

“The University will continue to work with the same suppliers for real-time captioning, including a local company we have worked with for 16 years. These providers currently provide 70% of our real-time captioning, with in-house staff of seven providing the remaining 30%. The captioning services provided by the provider use a method (CART) which provides an almost textual translation of what is said. CART providers must undergo two years of specialized training in order to use this highly accurate captioning method. DRC’s staff captioners use a different captioning method that provides meaning-for-meaning interpretation of what is being said, rather than textual translation. As I mentioned before, students who request real-time captioning generally express a preference for text captioning provided by providers, and our usage statistics above reflect this.

“To reiterate, this change ensures that we provide services that meet the needs identified by service users, further our goal of advancing access for all members of our community, and meet federal anti-corruption requirements. discrimination.”

University of Minnesota

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