ClickThrough's Strategy Director, Ian Boyden, tells us all about how Google's new transcription service transforms communication for those living with hearing impairments.
How Google Transforms the Way I Work With My Hearing Loss
Any employee working at a marketing agency is expected to be hot on the phone. Whether it’s dealing with client queries, talking about campaign results or running presentations, most of the marketing world spends hours of their day having these conversations on phone, conference and video calls.
So, you’d think someone with a significant hearing loss would stay away from this kind of career, right?
Well I didn’t.
Since leaving uni 10 years ago, I have been working in digital marketing. I was born with a sensorineural hearing impairment in both ears and I am classed as having a severe to profound degree of hearing loss. I have worn hearing aids since I can remember, and I rely on lip reading. So, as you can imagine, phone calls and conference calls have been a struggle at times. Foreign accents, mumbling, dodgy signals and bad car phone systems don’t help matters. At times, I have had to rely on my colleagues to repeat back to me.
I made a trip to the audiologist last year to run a hearing test and upgrade my hearing aids. When the audiologist asked me to describe my day to day activities, he couldn’t believe that I was able to have a career in the industry that I do. I guess I have just adapted and got on with it, which isn’t always the best approach.
When lockdown happened, I was naturally worried about the fact that all conversations (including internal conversations) were going to be happening over Zoom video calls. Whilst video calls allow me to lipread a bit better (compared to a face to face meeting), I still struggle and as a result I become extremely fatigued after many hours of being logged into Zoom. However, our favourite tech giant has come to my rescue.
Recently, Google have been offering a live transcribing/close captioning service in their video call software. This offering is Google Meet, which is free to use. The results are surprisingly accurate. In my opinion, I hear about 95% of the conversation compared to about 60% before. I have been able to take calls with people with foreign accents (and mumblers) and the conversation flows extremely well.
Being able to do this is the most amazing feeling and gives me more confidence to have “normal” conversations over the phone. I can now respond quicker to questions and hear (or read) snippets of information which lead to an important response or question. All in all, my ability to do my job has improved considerably.
What’s more. Google have also made headlines recently with their mobile transcribing app “Google Live Transcribe”, helping lip-readers to understand someone wearing a face mask. This is the same technology used on Google Meet.
Without Google, you could argue digital marketing wouldn’t exist in the way it does, and I may not have been lucky enough to have such a career. With Google’s innovation in transcribing and video conferencing, I now have another thing to thank Google for.
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