Zoom Live Transcription

Live Transcription Options for Zoom Meetings

Live transcription is now available for all Zoom meetings hosted by Emerson users. Live transcriptions can either be generated automatically (by a computer) or manually entered by a human transcriber. Read on for more information about the new live transcription options that are available, and how to enable them for your Emerson Zoom account and in your Zoom meetings.

Please note that automatic transcription cannot be used in breakout rooms, and manual captions can only be enabled for one breakout room at a time (whichever room the assigned transcriptionist is in at the time). 

A note on accessibility: automatic captioning vs. manual captioning

For quality assurance purposes, we currently don’t recommend Zoom’s auto-transcription feature for accessibility or live event purposes, as it is very new and tends to be inaccurate. To determine what type of captioning you should use for your Zoom meeting, see our captioning decision table

For an overview of accessibility features and strategies for remote meetings, see Hosting Accessible Zoom Meetings.

Enabling the live transcription features in your Zoom account

Before you can use live transcription in-meeting, you’ll need to first enable it in your Zoom account settings by doing the following: 

  1. Log into your account at zoom.emerson.edu. 
  2. Once logged in, click Settings on the left. On the Settings page, select Meeting at the top and then In-Meeting (Advanced):

    Screenshot of Zoom web interface clicking on Settings, then Meeting, then In Meeting (Advanced).
  3. Next, scroll down until you see the Closed captioning settings:

Screenshot of Zoom Closed captioning settings highlighting three main options.


Here, you’ll first want to enable Closed captioning (1), which will allow you or someone else to manually enter captions in-meeting. You’ll then see that Enable live transcription service to show transcript on the side panel in-meeting (2) and Save Captions (3) become available.

Enable live transcription service to show transcript on the side panel in-meeting (2) should be enabled if you want to have live transcriptions automatically generated for your meetings. Save Captions (3) should be enabled if you want to allow participants to save a copy of meeting captions and/or transcripts. 

Enabling in-meeting

To turn auto-transcription on in your meeting, click Live Transcript in your Zoom meeting controls, then select Enable Auto-Transcription:

Screenshot of in-meeting Zoom controls clicking on Live Transcript then Enable Auto-Transcription.

You will need to follow these steps to enable the feature for each meeting that you start and want auto-transcription for, as currently there is no way to have auto-transcription turned on by default for all your meetings. 

 

Show/hide subtitles

After enabling automatic transcription, you can then click the caret in the Live Transcript button and select Hide Subtitle if you don’t want to see the subtitles on screen. If subtitles are hidden currently, you can click the caret and select Show Subtitle:

Screenshot of in-meeting Zoom controls clicking on the Live Transcript caret then on Show Subtitle Screenshot of in-meeting Zoom controls clicking on the Live Transcript caret then on Hide Subtitle

Only the three most recent lines of transcription will appear on screen when Show Subtitle is enabled, since the subtitles are timed to align with participants’ speech. 

Even if you hide subtitles, your participants will still be able to see them as long as they don’t have subtitles hidden. The opposite is true as well--even if your subtitles are not hidden, it’s still possible for your participants to hide them on their end. 

 

Accuracy

Zoom’s automatic transcriptions are computer-generated and not checked by a human prior to being displayed as on-screen, in-meeting captions. Because of this, you will see that the live transcriptions are not 100% accurate. In our testing, we’ve calculated an average accuracy rate of about 87% for Zoom’s automatic live transcription. Nonetheless, live transcription can be a useful learning tool and a step towards making your Zoom meetings more accessible. 

According to Zoom Support, the accuracy of their live transcription feature depends on several variables, including but not limited to:

  • Background noise
  • Volume and clarity of the speaker’s voice
  • Speaker's proficiency with the English language
  • Lexicons, dialects, and accents specific to geography or community

To help improve the accuracy of live transcription, we’d recommend:

  • Using headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone when possible to reduce background noise. 
  • Muting yourself when you’re not talking and using the 'raise hand' feature, since the live transcription service has difficulties transcribing when speech overlaps. 
  • Speaking as clearly as possible at a level that is not too quiet, but not too loud.

Please note the following limitations of Zoom’s automatic live transcription:

  • Singing cannot be transcribed. 
  • Currently, the only supported language is English. 

 

If you don’t want to use automatically generated live transcription, for accessibility or other reasons, you can use one of the following manual live captioning options:

  • Type the captions yourself
  • Assign a participant to type captions 
  • Integrating a third-party closed captioning service
  • Booking a manual captioner or CART provider

 

How to add closed captions yourself

To type captions yourself, click the Live Transcript button, then under ‘Assign someone to type’ select I will type:

Screenshot of in-meeting Zoom controls clicking on Live Transcript then on I will type.

You will then see a window appear in which you can type the captions (see screenshot below). Hit Enter on your keyboard to broadcast the captions:

Screenshot of Zoom's Closed Caption - Broadcasting window.

Assign a participant to type closed captions

To assign someone else to type captions, click the Live Transcript button, then under ‘Assign someone to type’ select Assign a participant to type:Screenshot of Zoom controls showing how to enable the option to assign a participant to type.

You’ll then see the Participant window appear. Hover over the name of the participant who you want to assign to type captions and select the More button. Then, select Assign to type closed captions:Screenshot of Zoom Participants panel showing how to assign someone to type captions.

The participant you selected will then see a window appear in which they can type the captions (see screenshot below). They will type the captions and then hit Enter on their keyboard to broadcast the captions:

Screenshot of Zoom's Closed Caption - Broadcasting window.

Enable third-party manual captioning in-meeting

Third-party captioning via API key

Zoom can connect to third-party captioning services using an API key. Compatible captioning services include:

To ensure that your captioning needs are adequately met, be sure to clarify with the third-party provider what the nature of the captions you’re ordering are (i.e., are they computer-generated or manually generated?). Providers marked with an asterisk (*) are vendors of Emerson College.

Booking a manual captioner or CART provider

You can reach out to the following organizations for booking the services of manual captioners and CART providers:

Providers marked with an asterisk (*) are vendors of Emerson College.

Accuracy

To help improve the accuracy of third-party manual transcription, we’d recommend:

  • Using headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone when possible to reduce background noise.
  • Muting yourself when you’re not talking and using the 'raise hand' feature, since the live transcription service has difficulties transcribing when speech overlaps.
  • Speaking as clearly as possible at a level that is not too quiet, but not too loud.

Show/hide subtitles

After enabling manual captioning, you can then click the caret in the Live Transcript button and select Hide Subtitle if you don’t want to see the subtitles on screen. If subtitles are hidden currently, you can click the caret and select Show Subtitle:

Screenshot of in-meeting Zoom controls clicking on the Live Transcript caret then on Show Subtitle Screenshot of in-meeting Zoom controls clicking on the Live Transcript caret then on Hide Subtitle

Only the three most recent lines of transcription will appear on screen when Show Subtitle is enabled, since the subtitles are timed to align with participants’ speech. 

Even if you hide subtitles, your participants will still be able to see them as long as they don’t have subtitles hidden. The opposite is true as well--even if your subtitles are not hidden, it’s still possible for your participants to hide them on their end. 

Need more help?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to ITG (itg@emerson.edu or 617-824-8090) or Media Services (media_services@emerson.edu or 617-824-8676) with any questions.

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