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Caption This! Best practices for live captioning of jargon-rich scientific presentations
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  • Michele L. Cooke,
  • Celia R. Child,
  • Elizabeth C. Sibert,
  • Christoph Von Hagke,
  • S. G. Zihms
Michele L. Cooke
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Corresponding Author:cooke@geo.umass.edu

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Celia R. Child
Bryn Mawr College
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Elizabeth C. Sibert
Harvard University
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Christoph Von Hagke
Saltzburg University
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S. G. Zihms
University of Western Scotland
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Whether your scientific presentation is in-person or remote, everyone will understand more of your presentation if it has captions. Like subtitles of a movie, open captioning makes verbal material accessible for many people. A study of BBC television watchers reports that 80% of 15 caption users are not deaf nor hard of hearing (1). During English-spoken scientific presentations, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people who have auditory processing disorder and not yet fluent non-native English speakers develop listening fatigue that can prohibit their understanding and limit their participation in discussions. Increasing the accessibility of our presentations and improving inclusivity of discussions provides a path 20 towards increasing diversity within sciences. Studies show that subtitles/captioning improve both English language skills (e.g., 2, 3) and accessibility of science for deaf and hard of hearing participants (e.g., 3, 4). Furthermore, not everyone may be in a space where they can access audio, for example, if they are sharing space with other workers. A myriad of tools and platforms can provide captioning for live presentations. Why then don’t 25 we regularly caption presentations? Our resistance may be due to factors such as not knowing or believing that captioning is needed, not knowing how to use these tools, and believing that the resulting captioning will be inadequate. In response to the first reason, folks should not be forced to disclose their disability in order for presentations to be accessible to them. In response to the last two reasons, this article outlines different strategies for providing captions and presents 30 results of our performance assessment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based auto-caption of jargon rich geologic passages. Because most scientific presentations are delivered using either Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation software, we focus our performance assessment on the auto-captioning provided by these platforms. While a variety of tools can add captions to recorded lectures that can be edited to improve accuracy, offering a transcript after a 35 live presentation is not a suitable solution to improve participation. Here we provide evidence-based best-practices for providing captioning that will increase the accessibility of live scientific presentations In-Person Presentations For in-person presentations, trained human captionists or AI-based auto caption/transcription 40 software can provide live captioning (Fig. 1). Captionists use stenography tools to provide