As caption levels on television have risen in the UK, the US and Australia in recent years, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of programs which are being captioned live. The UK-based access company Red Bee Media has released a paper outlining some of the challenges faced by live captioners, and the technological advances which are leading to greater quality.
The paper, ‘Subtitling on British Television – the remaining challenges’, identifies three main issues which continue to frustrate viewers. (Note that ‘captioning’ is called ‘subtitling ‘ in the UK.) The first of these is the accuracy of live captions. To some extent, inaccuracies are inevitable given that most live captioning is done using either stenographic equipment or speech recognition software, and there is no time to edit the captions before they are transmitted. However, technical advances, especially in the field of speech recognition, are slowly leading to increased accuracy.