Virtual Computer Assisted Transcription (VCAT)

A wireless, on-demand, remote transcription service for individuals

who are deaf or hard of hearing

            R&D Funded by the Department of Education


Steve Sutter, President of CreateAbility Concepts, Inc.



Topics Covered





Vocabulary / Basic Definitions

·        CART vs. Captioning

Official definition:

CART = Communication Access Real-Time Translation

Common definition:

CART = Captioning At Real Time

Captioning differs in that it typically is associated with video information (open, closed)

Real-Time = 1-2 second delay



·        People first language, Deaf/HoH – people who are deaf or hard of hearing

·        Captionist (we are using this term vs, CART provider)

o       Machine Writer – uses stenograph

o       Voice Writer – uses voice recognition + mask

·        Pocket PC vs. PDA

·        Smart Phones

·        Wi-Fi = marketing name for 802.11b wireless LAN

·        ASL = American Sign Language


Machine Writers / Stenographers


Major Machine Writer Software

·        Case CATalyst – Stenograph

·        StenoCAT – Gigatron

·        Eclipse – Advantage

·        Digital CAT – Stenovations

·        ProCAT – ProCAT

·        TurboCAT – Cheetah Systems


VCAT Project Goals





Significance of the Problem

·        People who are deaf / HoH represent a large and growing population

o       8.6 % of population / 20 Million

o       Graying of America

o       52% are of working age (18-64)

o       < 50% know ASL

·        Hearing impairmanents negatively affect income

·        Shortage of captionists

·        Scheduling on-site captioning is difficult


Existing Products

Products with wireless technology often appear useful in this application. 

Small handheld terminals and Pocket PCs with wireless links to the

internet are not designed for large amounts of real-time information.  They offer audio and digital data communication, but not simultaneously, and there is no security.  Portable TTY/TDDs are available, but again are designed for low volumes of data transfer, and are not designed for voice.  VCOs are even available to clamp over a cell phone, such as the Pocket VCO from Krown Manufacturing, that allow spoken words to be transmitted and typed characters received and displayed, but again these are designed for relatively small strings of characters through a relay service and it does not address

the security and interaction requirements. 





Enabling Technology






Conceptual view / Sample User Screen


Benefits of VCAT to Clients

·        On demand / flexible accessibility to transcription services

o       Anytime

o       Anywhere

o       Greater access to topic specialists

·        Fosters greater freedom and independence

·        Lower cost

·        Easy web-based scheduling

·        Portable system that can handle a wide variety of situations

·        Quick and easy notation

·        Private correspondence to transcriptionist

·        Security

·        Easy to review what was spoken

·        Send messages to friends

·        Built in Pocket PC

·        Time zones


Benefits of VCAT to Captionists

·        More efficient

o       No travel

o       No setup / pack up

o       Can leverage topic specialty over many clients

o       Easy web-based scheduling

o       Templates for nature, terms / vocabulary

o       Greater exposure

·        Less stressful than group captioning

·        Less effort than depositions / court reporting

·        Easier / more comfortable for voice writers


Benefits of VCAT to other stakeholders

·        Professors – Documentation / feedback

·        Other students – selling transcript can increase learning, and offset cost of transcription services

·        Distance learners – Post transcript on web


Multiple Strategies Required Due To Spotty Coverage


Specialty Interfaces / Microphones


Four Basic Scenarios:



Wireless Internet connection


Wired Internet connection


Wireless Phone Connection


4: Anywhere



2: Classroom, lab, library, study hall


Wired Phone



3: Some dorm rooms, study hall, classroom


1: Dorm room or classroom


Scenario 1: Wired Analog Phone Line, Wired Internet Connection

Scenario 2: Wireless Phone, Wired Internet Connection

Scenario 3: Wired Analog Phone line, Wireless Internet Connection

Scenario 4: Wireless Phone, Wireless Internet Connection



·        Currently evaluating user needs, started low level development


Sample Scheduling Website

·        Home Page

·        About the Project

·        Sign Up

·        Login

·        Sign In Help

·        Forgot Password

·        Main Menu

·        Scheduling

·        Scheduling Setup

·        Captionist Profile

·        Feedback


Future Plans and Considerations

·        Integration into one portable device

·        User “speaking”

·        Pre-recorded .wav files

·        Text-to-Speech

·        Interface to signing Avitars?

·        TANF?

·        ESL

·        Continue to monitor:

o        VOIP

o        Voice Recognition


ESL CAT - Significance of the problem

In the last 100 years, the number of foreign-born U.S. residents has grown to about 30 million people -- resulting in a corresponding growth in demand for schools to provide effective English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a First Language (EFL) programs at all levels of instruction. People of Hispanic origin represent the largest ESL population in the U. S.  In a recent survey, researchers were surprised at the relative importance that Hispanic parents placed on their children being taught English (teach them English before Spanish: 81%; teach them English as soon as possible: 63%). ESL is now the fastest-growing K-12 population in the U.S. 


ESL CAT Benefits


·        Hearing and reading simultaneously facilitates whole language concepts:

o       Helps learn unknown words

o       Encourages proper pronunciation

·        Difficult English words or phrases can be automatically translated for better understanding

·        Helps ease severe ESL teacher shortage







We need your help.  If you would like to participate in refining our features and user interface, we would appreciate your input.  You can track status via website (after January ‘03).  Or, send message to to be added to our E-newsletter distribution list