Happy Thanksgiving from VITAC!

Happy Thanksgiving From VITAC

It’s the time of year to reflect and be thankful for all of the good things in life, and here at VITAC, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Not only are we thankful for some wonderful clients such as NBC, Discovery, CNN, CSPAN3, Scripps Networks (Food Network, Travel Channel), and many more, we’re grateful for the bonds and relationships we’ve formed with them over the years.

We also can’t thank our employees enough. They work tirelessly to ensure there are quality captions on live and prerecorded programming. Because broadcast television is a 24/7/365 industry, a lot of our employees work overnights, weekends and holidays. The deserve the utmost appreciation and recognition.

So this Thanksgiving, if you’re tuning into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC or maybe watching a Thanksgiving special on the Food Network, turn the captions on, and know that the company who made those captions is filled with gratitude.


Local Students Tour VITAC Headquarters

A group of court-reporting students from the Community College of Allegheny County toured the VITAC headquarters October 3rd, a visit entry-level students make with their professor, Mary Beth Johnson, every fall. Led by Realtime Captioner Trainer Sharon Siatkowski, students listened to an overview of the realtime and pre-recorded captioning departments before seeing demos of each. Of the visit, Sharon said, “They got their first look into what it’s like to have a career as a captioner and how it’s a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Here, we see Production coordinator Brian Bruneau explaining the Back-to-Back units, used for seamlessly transitioning between captioners mid-show.

VITAC, Captions, Tour, back-to-back machines, realtime

They also got to see Realtime Captioner Adrian Jonas write “NFL Primetime”. One student remarked, “That’s intense,” at seeing Adrian on air. These students are in their first month of the court reporting program and enthralled by the speed and responsibilities of realtime captioning. Some questions concerned average writing speeds in each respective department, where realtime steno captioners write around 225 wpm and pre-recorded writers write about 80 wpm. The group was also interested in learning about various protocols for caption content and delivery, engaging excitedly at the unique challenges presented by VITAC’s role in video post production.

Here, students watch Offline Supervisor Nathan Appel demo the process for pop-on captioning.

VITAC, tour, pre-recorded captioning, demo

VITAC Team Represented at NAB

Four VITAC Team Members Travel to Las Vegas for 2016 NAB Show


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Not when it comes to the 2016 NAB Show! Four of our VITAC team members are representing us, networking, and taking in all they can at the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters show this week.

NAB Show is the world’s largest electronic media gathering that features exhibits and sessions that cover everything from the creation of content to its delivery across any and all platforms. Over 100,000 professional from 166 countries attend each year and represent just about every facet of the media industry: Broadcast, Digital Media, Film, Entertainment, Telecom, Post-Production, Academia, Houses of Worship, Advertising, Military, Government, Retail, Security, Sports, Live Events, Online Video, IT, Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Chief Technology Officer Dwight Wagner, Engineering Manager Chuck Wall, Chief Business Development Officer Doug Karlovits, and Senior VP of Sales Darryn Cleary have arrived safely and are currently learning about all of the new trends and technologies within the media industry to bring new ideas, customers, and solutions back to VITAC. They’ll have the opportunity to visit over 1,700 exhibits!

Join us in wishing safe travels to our team, and be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook and LinkedIn this week for updates and photos of the show!

By Brittany Bender

A Taste of VITAC Summer

   You’re invited to VITAC‘s Summer barbecue! Well, maybe not physically, but you can make some of our team members’ favorite Summer dishes for your own get-together.

VITAC‘s internal employee newsletter, ViTalk, held a Summer BBQ/Picnic recipe contest this past month. We asked all employees across all departments to send in their best recipe for this time of year for the grill, or for a dish that they’d bring to a potluck picnic.

Our offline department captions tons of cooking shows, and it seems that some of our team members could actually star in some of them! We received many entries, so we compiled a few of them together to create the ultimate VITAC Summer meal:


PIMM’s Cup 


  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) Pimm’s No. 1
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) ginger beer or ginger ale
  • 1 cucumber slice
  • 1 sprig fresh mint (5-6 leaves)


  1. Fill highball glass with ice.
  2. Add Pimm’s, then top with ginger beer.
  3. Garnish with cucumber slice and mint sprig.
Appetizers/Side Dishes:

Joe’s Zesty Corn Salad submitted by Multi-Language Specialist Chris Hyde:


  • 8 ears fresh corn
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil fresh corn in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Remove and then plunge into cold water to stop cooking. Cut kernels off cobs.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.
  3. Chill thoroughly. Before serving, garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Cold Thai Noodle Salad submitted by Realtime Captioner Patty Nelson:


  • 1 lb. of spaghetti
  • Dressing: 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian chili sauce (siracha)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Extras: 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Optional: snow peas, bean sprouts, Napa cabbage


  1. Cook noodles al dente. Strain and rinse under cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together noodles, vegetables and 2/3 of the dressing.
  3. Chill at least 2 hours. Before serving, pour extra dressing over noodles and top with sesame seeds, cilantro and green onion.

Main Dishes:

“Lost” Burgers submitted by Multi-Language Services Manager Dan Garbark:


  • burger pattys and buns
  • pineapple slices
  • chipped ham (lunchmeat)
  • provolone cheese slices
  • barbecue sauce


  1. Grill burgers to preference
  2. When burgers are just about finished, top with pineapple, then the ham and provolone.
  3. Place in bun and top with barbecue sauce.

Blackberry Brandy Salmon submitted by Realtime Captioner Carol Epperley:


  • salmon filets
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons blackberry brandy
  • 2 tablespoons of butter


  1. Place each salmon filet in aluminum foil.
  2. Add brown sugar, blackberry brandy and butter.
  3. Fold aluminum foil and place on grill.
  4. Grill for about 20 minutes until flaky.


Red, White and Blue Cookies submitted by Offline Captioner Sarah McPartland:


  • 1 box of red velvet cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • white chocolate chips
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Blue food coloring


  1. Melt butter, soften cream cheese and blend together. Then add egg.
  2. Blend cake mix and vanilla extract and add to butter and cream cheese mixture. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls.
  4. Bake a dozen at 325 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
  5. When cooled, add blue food coloring to cream cheese frosting and top cookie with thin layer.

2013 Cuyahoga County Fair First Prize Pink Lemonade Pie submitted by Realtime Captioner Jane Proud:


  • 1 Pillsbury Pet-Ritz frozen pie crust
  • 1 8 ounce tub whipped topping, reserving some for decoration
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • powdered pink lemonade mix
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • red food coloring


  1. Bake Pet-Ritz pie crust as per directions on package.
  2. Combine whipped topping and sour cream. Stir in powdered pink lemonade to taste (about 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup). Spoon mixture into baked pie crust, spread smooth and refrigerate.
  3. Stir together sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add in a little of the water and stir to form a paste. Slowly stir in remaining water.
  4. Whisk in egg yolk and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in fruit juice. Stir in 1 drop of red food color.
  6. While mixture is still warm, gently pour it over the top of the pie, letting it spread to the edges. Refrigerate 1-2 hours and pipe whipped topping around edges or place a spoonful in the center for decoration.

VITAC Celebrates 29 Years

            The year was 1986. Heart’s “These Dreams” was the number one song on the charts, “The Cosby Show” was America’s favorite sitcom, and VITAC was founded to provide closed captioning as CaptionAmerica to one local news client in Pittsburgh.

 This month, we celebrate our 29th anniversary. A lot has certainly changed over the years, including our name! We changed it to VITAC in 1993 to stand for Vital Access, referring to access to media services for everyone.

We’ve also grown significantly since then. In addition to our original realtime captioning services, we offer offline captioning, Spanish offline and realtime captioning, captioning for the web, subtitling, and multi-language subtitling in over 45 languages. We caption over 220,000 realtime hours and over 28,000 offline hours every year and counting! VITAC also now employs 330 of us at our headquarters in Canonsburg, PA, in our Los Angeles, CA office, and remotely all over the country.

Here’s to 29 wonderful years, and many more to come!

VITAC Featured on Essential Pittsburgh

Have you ever wondered where closed captioning comes from and how it gets to your television? VITAC’s very own Chief Operations Officer, Chuck Karlovits explained the ins and outs of the captioning process on 90.5 WESA’s afternoon talk show, Essential Pittsburgh this week.
Essential Pittsburgh is a radio show that airs every weekday from noon to 1PM on Pittsburgh’s NPR station and features issues that face Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas and often focuses on local business.
Listen to Chuck’s conversation with host, Paul Guggenheimer here or listen via podcast through iTunes.

The Gift of Art: VITAC and WPSD Team up for Annual Holiday Contest

In 2014 we celebrate 24 years of a wonderful holiday tradition with the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Each year, students from the school submit artistic interpretations of a suggested theme, and send them to VITAC headquarters, where the art is displayed and employees vote for their favorite. We choose multiple finalists and a grand prize winner, and recognize each with a certificate and cash prize during a presentation at the school’s December assembly. This year’s theme was “Holidays Unwrapped.” We’re happy to announce this year’s winners!


This year’s grand winner is Destiny Tanner, age 14. Art and math are her favorite school subjects and she plans to attend Gallaudet University to further her education after she graduates from WPSD. Congratulations, Destiny!


Congratulations to our other six finalists and to all of the WPSD holiday art participants!








VITAC Announces New Director of Multilanguage Services

VITAC is pleased to announce that effective September 29, 2014, Bob Beyer will be the new Director of Multilanguage Services (MLS). Bob joined VITAC in 1990 and helped grow our Offline Department, opening the Washington, D.C. office in 1992. In subsequent years he became the leader of our Los Angeles Offline Captioner group.

In his new role, Bob will be leading a department responsible for marrying the expertise of six employees, in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, with hundreds of independent contractor translators in over 50 countries around the world. His leadership and knowledge of the prerecorded captioning and subtitling industry will be an invaluable contribution to our MLS team.

Director of Prerecorded Operations Dina Smith will also transition into a new role, taking over responsibility for 100% of VITAC’s offline captioning operations. Dina joined VITAC in 1990, and what was then a two-person Offline Department now consists of 74 Captioners in seven states. She has led through FCC mandates for TV captions, the transition to digital and HD distribution, explosive cable expansion, and now web captioning.

From everyone at VITAC, we wish Bob and Dina the best of luck in their new roles!

New Contact Info For Los Angeles Office

VITAC’s LA office underwent an important upgrade this week, aimed at improving customer service and streamlining communications within VITAC. The improvement involved an overhaul of the phone systems to allow Vice President, West Coast Sales Maggie McDermott and SVP, Market Development Deborah Schuster to be reached directly, without having to contact an operator. Their new contact information is as follows:

Maggie McDermott Deborah Schuster
Vice President, West Coast Sales SVP, Market Development
(818) 286-3542 (818) 286-3541



The main number, (818) 755-0410, still connects to LA reception. As always, you can reach members of our Client Sales and Services team at (724) 514-4077 or clientservices@vitac.com.

Throwback Friday — Your Peek Into VITAC’s Past

Any caption viewer with a good memory and a sharp eye knows that VITAC has been providing industry-leading service for 28 years (we are one of the only companies that still proudly puts their name in the captions during show credits). While we prefer to focus on our service today and plan for tomorrow, there is little danger in looking back at our humble roots.

VITAC started out as a two-man operation in 1986 called CaptionAmerica and has grown into the 330-employee outfit it is today, the name of which is a contraction of “VITal ACcess.” Back then, our first customer was KDKA-TV Eyewitness News, and we were a realtime-only shop — our offline department didn’t come about until a few years later. We did not have a website, and our marketing materials (from May 1991) still carried our old name. And if you wanted an hour of live captioning back then, it would’ve cost $990!

More than anything, we at VITAC concern ourselves with more modern caption technologies and how to improve our overall service to the customers.