Friday, October 01, 2004

"...For all our mental programs, press 3."

Boy, you're getting a bumper crop of blather from me today!

CapTel is an incredible and ingenious device and its use is spreading across the US. It is not, as far as I know, available in Canada yet. CapTel is a captioned telephone which works like having your own personal Closed-Captioner; when the person on the other end says something, a StenoCaptioner at the CapTel service quickly types it using speech-recognition software and it pops up as text-captions, in real-time, right on the CapTel phone.

The advantages of this to a deaf user are huge. When communicating with the 98% of the population who do not have TTYs, you don't need to use the clumsy relay-operator method; the person on the other end of the line needn't ever even know you are deaf. You merely read his remark (as typed by the silent StenoCaptioner) and respond verbally.

Alas, like all captioning using voice recognition technology, CapTel isn't foolproof. And as usual, hilarity ensues.

A woman on the ALDA (Association of Late-Deafened Adults) Listserv has a CapTel. She cites some of the garbled messages her phone served up to her:

What the person said: "I'll see if she can meet Thursday."
What the captions said: "I'll see if chicken meat Thursday."

What they said: [one of those hateful voice menus] "...For
environmental programs, press 3"
What the captions said: "...For all our mental programs, press 3."

What they said: "Just a minute, please."
What the captions said: "Justice admitted, please."

I particularly liked "...For all our mental programs, press 3."



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