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EDUCAUSE & Verbit: Leveraging Technology to Improve Higher Education Accessibility



Digital transformation is making waves in higher education across the world. It changes how leadership manages the campus, it makes data-based automation possible for improving campus operations and student wellbeing, and it differentiates institutions for top tier students who seek innovative education that trains them to succeed in tomorrow’s workplaces, just to name a few of the exciting developments. But perhaps the most exciting shift happening thanks to digital transformation is in growing levels of accessibility to students with disabilities, who have traditionally found it challenging to tap into the benefits higher education That has been presented able-bodied students for generations.

To keep following through on our commitment to making higher education an equal-opportunity space, 


Our team here at Verbit is excited to partner with the EDUCAUSE conference on October 14-17, 2019.  We are exhibiting at booth #752 and would love to see you and answer the questions you have about improving accessibility with AI-based transcriptions and captions.


Here are some other ways the EDUCAUSE conference can help you meet your digitization goals:

EDUCAUSE Annual Conference: Explore New Boundaries in Teaching, Learning and Transform the Student Experience

The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference is all about helping professionals and organizations in higher education expand their impact with IT. The conference produced by the EDUCAUSE nonprofit association, which has over 100,000 members from more than 2,300 higher education organizations across 45 countries. Members include teaching, learning and IT professionals, academic leaders and campus executives, among others. The conference will, therefore, allow you to interact with professionals from all these fields, plus corporate and startup technology leaders.


Digitizing to Increase Accessibility Creates Learning Paths All Students Benefit From

For high education organizations, digitization is often right about accessibility for visually impaired, hard of hearing, wheelchair-bound students. Leveraging innovative technologies, from electronic Braille to AI-based captions, open the doors to higher education to students who have traditionally been left behind. When that happens, surprising benefits appear from additional directions. Yes, campuses meet compliance requirements, but it’s more than that. They end up serving a larger sector of their student population, who seems adaptable to traditional learning methods on the surface but secretly thrives in personalized learning experiences and paths that are tailored to their specific needs.

As the EDUCAUSE Review reported, for example, when students requested that a course gets recorded, those who chose to study remotely were able to feel vicariously connected to the in-class experience. EDUCAUSE Review explained that this is likely thanks to students being accustomed to social media interactions with friends and celebrity influencers. It is also a great exercise in staying committed to doing the necessary work while performing it remotely, as many teams do in today’s global workforce.

For many higher education organizations, recording classes is a part of their accessibility strategy, aiming to serve students with disabilities better and meet regulatory demands. Many are moving away from being reactive to random student requests. Instead, they are choosing to record and transcribe all classes with the understanding that Universal Design for Learning (UDL), known as classroom experience design for students previously left at the margins, creates a positive impact for all students. Adding captions to serve hard of hearing and deaf students, for example, could end up serving visual learners and students who study in a language that’s different than their mother tongue as well.

The recordings alone might serve students who struggle to juggle university and work and have multiple commute hours a day, or those who retain information better when they can learn it in private. Students’ positive feedback for the recorded course reported by EDUCAUSE Review showed that they were able to enjoy and benefit from the class recordings, and from the flexibility to learn in the way that supported them the most.

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What is Voice Recognition Used for and How Does it Work?

Voice recognition technology identifies a speaker and authenticates that he or she is indeed that individual. Unlike speech recognition, which identifies the words spoken, voice recognition analyzes countless patterns and elements that distinguish one person’s voice from another. Voice recognition is now being used in every facet of our lives, personally and professionally.


How Is Voice Recognition Used in Everyday Life?

Voice recognition products are quickly becoming part of everyday life. For example, Google’s smart home kit allows you to set your devices to begin working before you even get home. You can turn on the lights and heat, unlock your door, and monitor your spaces seamlessly and remotely.

Speech recognition identifies the words you use. You can search for a video on YouTube without typing or turn on a smart TV without clicking a button. Voice recognition takes it one step further, ensuring that only your voice can unlock your home. The technology identifies your specific voice and you rely on its ability to do so to keep you safe.

Voice-enabled devices also recognize specific voices within a home. These recognition abilities prevent your kids from using devices to shop without your permission. They also help to differentiate from family members who are scheduling appointments with connected devices.  

Automatic Voice Recognition Is Empowering Students

In addition to its capabilities in the home, voice recognition is empowering universities to aid students with disabilities. Smart classrooms are now implementing advanced technologies like voice-activated academic transcription software.

When campuses transcribe their classes, deaf and hard of hearing students gain access to educational opportunities that they couldn’t access previously. AI-based transcription software makes it easy for them to differentiate between when a university professor is speaking and when its a peer speaking or asking a question when listening to recorded lectures for example.

Voice recognition tools also empower the higher education industry with the ability to use voice dictation systems when written papers are required to be submitted. Whether a student is blind, suffering from an injury or simply doesn’t perform well in certain aspects of academia, he or she can greatly benefit from the many uses that voice recognition tools provide. 


How Voice Recognition Tools Improve the Justice System

When it comes to legal proceedings, such as court hearings and depositions, where many people are involved, recording and transcribing the process is often necessary. The industry is experiencing a shortage of stenographers and therefore turning to voice-activated legal transcription software.

While AI-based transcription products help court reporting agencies train the software to recognize industry terms, automatic voice recognition engines can distinguish between the many speakers present in the same room and account for common interruptions. As the technology grows more sophisticated, court reporting agencies are able to leverage software to produce 99% accurate transcriptions.


How Voice Recognition Products Keep Us Safe

In addition to recognizing a consumer’s specific voice to unlock his door, some banks are now allowing access to accounts via voice recognition instead of passwords. Voices are comprised of countless elements that make them unique. Therefore, it is much easier to hack an account by uncovering someone’s password, and much more challenging to hack when voice recognition is implemented.

Voice recognition software programs are also supporting law enforcement in the field. When officers are solving crimes, documenting everything that happens can make or break a case. With no need to stop and jot notes down, officers can perform their jobs more efficiently. Officers can dictate notes to their devices and get these notes transcribed.

When multiple officers use the same voice dictation system, or when they operate in busy environments with a lot of noise, automatic voice recognition is critical in order to know which officer saw or did what on the scene.


Future Uses of Voice Recognition Technology

Voice recognition will continue to impact our future. As more voice recognition software programs are developed, we’re likely to see an increase in voice-enabled devices and third-party applications to enhance our usage.

Voice profiles will also grow more sophisticated, leading to more personalized experiences that encourage deeper adoption. Voice ads will be more personalized too and making purchases online will be easier and more secure when voice recognition could become a requirement for payment. As technology identifies voices, their tones, and their contexts more clearly, criminal acts and legal procedures will grow more transparent and higher education will become more personalized and accessible. As voice recognition usage increases, it will no longer be a question of who uses voice recognition software, but who doesn’t.

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