CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT

University of Pittsburgh

In a Nutshell
The University of Pittsburgh held its 2020 commencement ceremony virtually. Pitt partnered with Verbit to provide its live captioning expertise to ensure the ceremony was accessible to families tuning in live globally from 35 countries. The Monday following the event, Pitt reported 52,000 video views and nearly 5 million social impressions, demonstrating significant video engagement. While Pitt is highly committed to regularly providing captioning, the high-profile commencement environment featuring unscripted speakers presented a new challenge.

The Challenges

The University of Pittsburgh always knew captioning would be provided for the virtual ceremony. “Captioning is a non-negotiable for us, especially with an event of this size,” said Kate Ledger, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Marketing. Originally, the ceremony was going to be pre-recorded, which would make captioning easier to do with its production company. However, the Chancellor was insistent on including four live speakers who were participating via Zoom. Less than one week prior to the commencement, the media company Pitt hired for the event noted they couldn’t provide live captioning on Zoom.
Experience Icon

An agile partner to deliver live captioning quickly

Experience Icon

A service that could integrate easily with Zoom

Experience Icon

A technology specializing in higher-ed requirements

Experience Icon

A trusted partner for accurate live captions

Experience Icon

A dedicated customer support team to meet changing needs

“The Verbit Zoom integration has been such a tremendous bonus, which I know has been a relatively new initiative with Verbit. It certainly came up at the right time for us as an institution, having to shift in a very rapid manner to a remote learning platform. It's been a critical piece.”

Leigh Culley Director of Disability Resources and Services, University of Pittsburgh

The Solution

Pitt’s disability resources team recommended Verbit, whose leadership was willing to jump on the ceremony’s technical rehearsal mere days out, test the technology and adapt it to ensure a smooth process. Benefits included:

Live services
Real-time CART services met the needs of remote viewers with the aid of live captions

Ease of use
Verbit’s live captioning integrated with Zoom and met Pitt's needs

Effective global engagement
Students and families participating remotely were able to engage with an accessible livestream

The Results

Accommodation of changing needs

Verbit met Pitt’s continuous needs, including moving courses to a remote setting prior to commencement. “Pre-COVID, certainly we’ve been well established with Verbit, but the past 7 or 8 weeks have been super.”

Sparking additional faculty interest

Due to this successful experience, Pitt’s School of Medicine reached out to Culley and the commencement team about implementing live captions for their 2020 virtual celebration as well.

Engaging a diverse audience

“Knowing that there’s a diverse audience of different types of individuals, different ages, who speak different languages, I think it was very helpful from a Universal Design standpoint to have captioning. So that those who just learn in different ways would benefit from gathering information through captioning is critical, and this allowed all different individuals to feel a part of the celebration.”

An ideal partnership

Verbit and Pitt arranged a rehearsal, identified challenges and resolved them with transparency. Collaborative feedback allowed the teams to prime the event and live technology with the best opportunity to perform in an environment with dynamic speakers and conversational overlap.

Dedicated customer support

Verbit’s team dedicated time to rehearsals to ensure accurate delivery for Pitt’s event. “Scott [Ready of Verbit] has been very available at every turn.”

Dynamic technology

Verbit’s technology was agile enough to incorporate necessary changes customized to Pitt’s needs. It was prepped with key terminology and technical terms to ensure the actual commencement captioning occurred seamlessly.

“I have an email that I copy and paste because people ask me [about the live captions] all the time. So I just say: Here’s Verbit… I have been giving out rave reviews too because that was a really important part. So thanks for instilling confidence in me.”

Kate Ledger, Assistant Vice Chancellor
for Marketing, University of Pittsburgh

View Case Study PDF