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Captioning and NZ Sign Language

From our Partners Event Tips

By techweek Techweek

13 May 2021

Acces Advisors blog 1 virtual event tips 950x500

Article written by: Chandra Harrison, Managing Director - Access Advisors.

Captioning and NZ Sign Language interpretation is vital for many people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Many NZSL users don’t have a good understanding of written English and may be unable to rely fully on captions. NZSL is also one of Aotearoa’s official languages.

There’s a lot to learn about captioning and interpretation. Here, we highlight a few things to consider as you plan and present online events. These tips will help to make your events more accessible to all, enhance the user experience and facilitate communication for people who have accessibility needs.

Ask participants what they need

At registration, always ask your attendees whether they have any access needs. For those who tell you they are NZSL users, English may be their second language and they may need an interpreter to be able to follow what you are saying.  For others captions may be enough.

Book in advance

If you do want to have live captioning and or NZSL interpretation then it pays to book well in advance. New Zealand doesn’t currently have a huge supply of qualified NZSL interpreters or captioners so give yourself a good few weeks to book things in.

Pre-event Preparation

it is vital that the service you use understands a bit about the format of the event, who is going to be speaking and any complex language they may be using. This is especially so for NZSL interpreters, but also for captioners. A meeting before your event is vital to help the interpreters improve familiarity and understand communication style, understand any communication issues, get familiar with speech, speed, accent and tone, and understand what kind of content to expect. It’s also a good chance to rehearse If you’ve never used either captioning or NZSL translation.

Use of Te Reo

If you know you’ll have Te Reo in your presentation, provide a script / translation for the captioners and NZSL interpreters. This helps them make sure that the Te Reo is correct. Interpreting Te Reo relies on interpreter knowledge of Te Reo. If they are not Te Reo speakers they will sign “speaking Te Reo” or e.g. “this is a karakia.” Your interpreter or captioner will appreciate having advance knowledge.  And if you are having a karakia then consider including the text in the chat with a translation into English if possible. This helps everyone to follow along, learn more about Te Reo and understand what is being said.

Captioning Services

Captions are needed in so many circumstances. They, not only help people with permanent access needs, but also mainstream users in environments when using sound is not possible.

Automated captions are an option, but the quality of the content is often a bit questionable. Instead, you can use professional captioning service which joins your meeting and does their magic. Some services use automated captioning that is refined by real people. Others use real people either typing or ‘re-talking’ your content. The level of human involvement and accuracy is reflected in the cost of the services.

For any online event, we recommend you have captions whenever possible. Here are a few of the many services available who can help with captioning:

Access Advisors would like to thank Verbit for providing captioning services for our events during Techweek2021 and acknowledge the service provided by Your Virtual Assistant for our transcripts.

NZSL Interpreters

If you know that you have NZSL users attending your event then it is just good manners to include an NZSL interpreter for them. Sometimes they can pay themselves, but usually you as the host will need to pay for interpretation of your event. There are lots of other resources available to help you, but here is a useful guide to working with NZSL Interpreters.

In brief, interpreters are usually join 30 minutes before an event to get everything checked. They usually work in pairs and swap out about every 15-20 minutes. On a webinar the interpreter’s video feed will also need to be active. The interpreter who is resting will turn their video feed off until they are needed again.

Here are a few providers of NZSL interpreters and translating services:

Good luck with your events and if you would like more support contact Access Advisors and we will be happy to help.

Access Advisors is a Supporter and Accessibility Partner of Techweek2021.

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