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WAMU Puts Captioning to Work

Automated ENCO system serves deaf and hard-of-hearing

ENCO, enCaption4, WAMU, radio program captioning
ENCO enCaption4 Sample Web Page

WAMU(FM) in Washington is using a captioning system from ENCO to put live automated transcripts of its programming on its website, serving deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members.

The highly rated public station deployed an enCaption4 captioning system.

“The Washington area is home to a substantial population of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, including approximately 1,500 students at Gallaudet University,” the company stated in a press release. “The inspiration for WAMU’s captioning project came when a deaf political candidate seeking office in Washington requested to appear on the station’s popular ‘Kojo Nnamdi Show’ and wanted the result to be accessible to all of his constituents.”

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A pilot project drew about 150 people watching the captions, and now the station plans to promote it to the general public.

ENCO, enCaption4, WAMU, radio program captioning
ENCO enCaption4 rack hardware

To make it work, audio is taken from WAMU’s Telos Alliance Axia audio-over-IP infrastructure and converted by an Axia xNode to an AES/EBU signal that feeds the captioning system. “enCaption4 ingests the same on-air signal path being routed to WAMU’s transmitter and online streaming encoders, enabling live, 24/7 captioning of all of WAMU’s on-air content,” ENCO stated. The captions it creates are fed to the website, where they are displayed on a transcription page.

ENCO said WAMU also plans to upgrade its content management system to allow integration of internal data sources, which will provide a dictionary of local names and events. It also intends to integrate captions into its streaming player.

Rob Bertrand is senior director of technology at WAMU.

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