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VEE Awards: 3rd Quarter 2012

Posted on: 10/17/2012 11:59:40 AM under VEE Award Winners 


Let us introduce you to third quarter winners of the VITAC Employee Excellence Awards!

Marie Hoffman - Marketing Program Specialist
Marie was nominated by her colleagues in the sales department for her outstanding marketing analysis, creativity and overwhelmingly positive attitude. She was recognized for her ability to "step up to the challenge and bring her own sense of responsibility" to a multitude of projects, including VITAC's website, customer satisfaction survey, bi-weekly employee newsletter and quarterly sales analysis.

Maggie McDermott - VP, Sales, West Coast
Maggie was nominated for going out of her way to integrate a group of experienced captioners into VITAC's LA office. Maggie recommended a plan of action and then helped see it through, from delivering "we're moving!" signs to preparing welcome kits for the new team. Her creativity "keeps things exciting" and helped smooth the first days of the transition.

Tracy Ukura - Remote Realtime Captioner
Tracy was nominated for going above and beyond the already demanding realtime captioner responsibility, organizing caption files into folders so they may be easily accessed by on-air captioners. She researches network schedules in advance and identifies repeats and pieces together corresponding caption files. Using these files on air, helps our captioners "provide even better captions for the viewers."



How Are Realtime Captions Generated?

Posted on: 10/11/2012 2:34:27 PM under Blog 


The process used to deliver realtime captions begins at the fingertips of a court reporter with specialized skills fine-tuned especially for this particular application. These court reporters are called realtime captioners.

Unlike a transcriptionist, who manually types each letter of a word on a standard computer keyboard, a realtime captioner is using a steno machine, which is designed in a fashion quite different from that of a standard keyboard. The standard computer keyboard consists of 26 letter keys, all of which can be shifted for capital letters, keys to type 31 marks of punctuation and/or symbols, 10 keys to type digits, as well as a variety of function keys. The steno machine consists of 22 keys and a number bar. Obviously, with only 22 keys, the operators of these machines are doing something different than a typist and something that's a little mysterious to the general public.

Understanding how the steno machine operates and how realtime captioners work will remove some of that mystery. Clearly, with only 22 keys, all 26 letters of the alphabet are not available on the steno keyboard, although some letters are there twice. No marks of punctuation or symbols are available, either, and no shift key for capitalizing letters. In fact, the keys themselves are unmarked.

The keyboard was designed so the operator can press more than one key at a time. Each key, or combination of keys, represents a sound, and all of the keys pressed within a single stroke represent one syllable of a word. Operators of steno machines learn a writing theory based on phonetics. Realtime captioners do not actually type or spell words on their steno machine. They write words phonetically based on the sounds that they hear, one syllable at a time. So, generally, if a word has one syllable, the captioner can write that word with one stroke of the keyboard. If a word contains multiple syllables, the steno outline will consist of multiple strokes of the keyboard. The ability to write in syllables, as opposed to typing individual letter strokes, is what enables captioners to write at speeds of 225 words per minute and above.

Each captioner writes words based on the way they interpret the sounds they hear. So two people trained together in the same classroom won't necessarily use matching steno outlines for the same word. To increase their speed, captioners also develop their own brief forms, or shortcuts, for multi-syllabic words or phrases that are used repeatedly in their particular specialty of work, individualizing even further the way they write.

Since all captioners do not write every word exactly the same way, each one of them develops dictionaries geared specifically to their personal writing style. These dictionaries are computerized and are used in conjunction with specialized software to electronically record and translate the steno strokes into English words. For a word to translate correctly, the captioner first must enter the strokes for that word into a dictionary.

Using their skills, their dictionaries and the software, captioners produce highly accurate captions, but within those captions will be some errors. They do everything possible to minimize the number of errors. They do research and dictionary building in preparation for each event or program, and they do follow-up afterward to review any errors that did occur in an effort to prevent that type of error in the future.

Although it's likely there will be some errors, they should be minimal.

Stay tuned for more posts about our production processes!



Captioning Mandates for Prerecorded IP-delivered Programs Take Effect

Posted on: 10/4/2012 9:31:03 AM under Technical » CC for IP-delivered Programming 


Effective this week, prerecorded content that airs on TV with captions must be captioned when delivered via Internet Protocol (IP).

A result of the Twenty-First Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the rule applies to unedited prerecorded content that originally airs on television with captions after September 30, 2012.

A number of our clients already comply with the new rule. Here are just a few:

Most of online video players are now equipped with a CC button. Simply click the button to turn on the captions. You'll find examples of this feature on YouTube, Hulu, and Discovery Channel's website. This is also how you'll access captioned videos on Android phones.

In order to see captioned videos on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV), you may need to change settings on the device itself. For iPads and iPhones, choose Settings | Videos | Closed Captioning ON.

Note that many IP-delivered programs include advertisements before and during the show. These commercials are often not captioned. We hope this will change in the future.

Visit our Captioning for IP Resources page for more information.



TV News Search & Borrow

Posted on: 10/2/2012 11:59:42 AM under Blog 


Internet Archive is putting closed captions to work!

The Internet Archive recently launched TV News Search & Borrow, which helps you stay informed on current events by letting you to search closed captions from over 365,000 newscasts.

As the largest closed captioning company in the United States, it's no coincidence that VITAC's captions are well represented on TV News. We caption over 220,000 hours of realtime programming a year! Here are just a few of the networks that use VITAC's closed captioning services: CBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox, Telemundo, NBC, Univision, and BBC  World News America.

TV News archives broadcasts from the nation's leading networks and programs. They currently have newscasts from 2009 to the present -- with more being added daily. To help people stay informed and compare resources, the site provides some cool tools like a tag cloud of current buzz words, a history of a word's popularity, and a visual overview of broadcasts. Once you find clips that meet your query, you can borrow the full version or view it at the Internet Archive's library in San Francisco.

We're so happy to see closed captions being used for such an educational cause. Great job, Internet Archive!



Monica Yeater

Posted on: 9/21/2012 9:29:47 AM under Employee Spotlights » Current 


Offline Supervisor
Est. 2001
Canonsburg, PA

Where were you born and raised?
Moundsville, West Virginia. I was just there a few weeks ago to visit my mom.

What was your first job?
Starting at the age of 15, I was the weekend secretary at my hometown church for three
hours on Saturday mornings. I made a cool 13 bucks a week. I supplemented that with
money I made from my classmates by typing their papers. That typing class was probably
the most useful high-school class I took.

What is your fondest High School memory?
Going to the drive-in for the all-nighter on the Sundays before Memorial Day and Labor
Day. If you made it all night, you got a free breakfast. It didn't seem to matter to us that it
was disgusting.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
I can't pick one. It keeps changing. Just in the last year, I've been to Spain, Los Angeles,
the Outer Banks, Niagara Falls, and on a cross-country road trip, which are all a favorite
because of one thing or another. But at the same time, I like watching TV on the couch
with my girlfriend and my cat, or sitting at my mom 's kitchen table having a cup of
coffee with her and my brother and sister-in-law.

What's your philosophy of life?
My general philosophy is that God leads you where you're supposed to go. In my day-
to-day life, however, I also try to adhere to the strict guideline of "don't be an idiot."

What do you like most about working at VITAC?
The people. I have formed many close relationships with the people I have met over the
years. I have worked at several other places, and this is by far my favorite. These are
relationships that I know will last a lifetime, and I am so, so lucky to have them.

To learn more about Monica's interests, visit:



One Month To Go

Posted on: 8/30/2012 9:46:35 AM under Technical » CC for IP-delivered Programming 


In less than a month, closed captioning mandates for Internet Protocol-delivered programming are scheduled to go into effect. The rules will apply to IP-delivered programms that originally aired on television and includes prerecorded, live, near-live and archived prerecorded content.

Deadlines for compliance are set for each type of programming -- with unedited prerecorded content being the first to go. Starting September 30, 2012, Video Programming Distributors (VPD), Owners (VPO) and Providers (VPP) will be required to closed caption their IP-delivered programming.

Check out our interactive flowchart for more information. Is your programming effected?



Diane Scott

Posted on: 8/22/2012 12:47:19 PM under Employee Spotlights » Archive 


Est. 2007
Story City, IA

What was it like where you grew up?
Hubbard, Iowa is a very small town. My graduating class had 34 people in it. A handful of the citizens live in town and the rest live on farms. We had a grocery store and a Casey's General Store (best pizza around). When I was in high school, the local energy company had a gas leak and all of Main Street blew up! Then we were down to just a Casey's General Store.

What is your fondest High School memory?
Let's see, that would probably be any event that required an early dismissal from school. I also used to love driving around in my mom's Lumina... wasting gas. I had my parents' coop gas card and I was mad with power.

What do you recall about your first date?
We went to Village Inn for supper. And oh yeah, I married that guy! (see picture)

What do you do to decompress?
I like to read books to relax. Also, I work out to keep my stress level down.

What scares you the most? Why?
I have a lot of irrational fears. Storms frighten me because of the obvious; tornadoes and power outages. Power outages mean I can't work. YIKES! Large bodies of water scare me because I don't know what might be lurking below.

What do you like about working at VITAC?
I LOVE working from home. I like feeling like I'm part of team. And I love learning new things all the time from the variety of programming we cover.

To learn more about Diane's interests, visit:




FCC Limited Extension: Apps & Plug-Ins

Posted on: 8/21/2012 12:48:53 PM under Technical » CC for IP-delivered Programming 


This just in!

The FCC granted a limited extension of distributor compliance obligations with respect to the enhanced functionality features. The compliance date for those features -- which includes apps and plug-ins -- is now January 1, 2014. These rules will apply to all features, even those available through the distributor's website.

For more information about the closed captioning mandates for IP-delivered programming, check out our interactive flowchart.



Shark Week: 2012

Posted on: 8/13/2012 10:30:35 AM under Blog 


VITAC has been captioning all of the programming for Shark Week for the past 8 years. We're pretty sure that makes us part-shark.

In honor of the week, here's a rundown of the top ways VITAC is like our sharp-toothed friends:

1. We're fast.
Sharks can swim between 20-40 mph. The fastest shark, the Mako can reach 60 mph! Our Realtime Captioners are like the Mako -- they type 225 words per minute.

2. We're the biggest thing out there.
At 90,000 lbs, the Whale Shark is the biggest fish in the world. With just over 300 employees, we're the largest closed captioning company in the United States.

3. We're all about variety.
There are over 370 species of sharks. Meanwhile, VITAC handles a variety of accessibility features -- and each has a laundry list of deliverables and specs!

4. We're global.
Sharks (and our captions) can be seen around the world. We have an office in LA and in Pittsburgh, captioners all over the US and translators around the globe.

5. We're smart.
Sharks have a high brain-to-body mass ratio; making them one of the smarter fish in the sea.
Here at VITAC, we believe that only the best can write the best captions and handle the requests from our clients. And let's not forget the English Grammar test the Offline Captioners/Coordinators are required to pass!

6. We never stop!
Some sharks will die if they stop swimming. Similarly, VITAC is open 24/7/365. We wouldn't die if we closed... but it wouldn't be pretty.

7. We have a keen sense of hearing.
Sharks can hear sounds (well, feel vibrations) from thousands of feet away. Their inner ears allow them to track the sound of their prey from lengths of more than 800 feet (244 meters). Offline and Realtime Captioners tune in to and understand the most mumbled or garbled dialogue out there!

8. We're tough.
A shark's skin is covered with small, razor-sharp teeth, called denticles. We're pretty sure CSS, Scheduling, Traffic and F&A have denticles... they can handle A LOT!

9. We're one of the oldest things out there.
Sharks have been around for at least 420 million years -- that makes them as old as the dinosaurs! VITAC isn't that old, but we were one of the first closed captioning companies. No one can beat us in experience.

10. We're forward-moving.
Sharks can't swim backward. As for VITAC -- well, need we say more?



Happy Summer from Your Friends at VITAC!

Posted on: 8/8/2012 12:56:23 PM under Blog 


VITAC: Supporting All of Your Accessibility Needs


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