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Lecture recordings to become more accessible with automated captioning

5 August 2020

Students will be able to access automatically generated transcripts of Lecturecast recordings from Monday 10 August.

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From Monday 10 August, all lectures and video recordings published to Lecturecast will be transcribed automatically using the  ‘Automatic speech recognition’ (ASR) feature in the platform. 

This includes any recordings created at home and published via Universal Capture. All classroom captures taking place in a Lecturecast-enabled space on campus will also benefit from the new feature. 

Once a transcript is created, it’s just push of a button to generate captions for your recordings, which can be easily turned on and off by students in the viewing interface. ASR makes it even easier to take an ‘accessibility-first’ approach to developing your teaching materials and it will help break down many of the barriers experienced by students with learning difficulties. 

A new study resource for all

The decision to enable automatic speech recognition under an opt-out policy was taken by UCL at Executive level with the full support of the Deans and Academic Committee, in response to requests from staff and students and having considered the academic benefit of student access to transcripts. 

Lecturecast’s ‘automatic speech recognition’ (ASR) functionality will provide invaluable support for students with hearing and learning difficulties, whilst also producing a useful additional study resource for all students. 

Just as students would search large amounts of text using keywords to pinpoint passages of interest, Lecturecast transcripts - which are searchable and synchronised with the recording - allow similar searches of video presentations. 

The accuracy of transcripts can vary depending on several things, including the quality of mic or headset and the amount of subject-specific vocabulary used. Staff are under no obligation to correct transcripts, although it is possible to do so if you wish. Find out more about correcting transcripts of your recordings. 

Future-proofing an “accessibility-first” approach

ASR has been turned on for the period of remote teaching required by our Covid-19 response. However, it also provides a valuable opportunity for an institutional-level pilot to assess use of and demand for the service going forward, when ordinary levels of face-to-face teaching resume.

The future use of ASR falls within the scope of the existing Lecturecast Policy Working Group, which develops draft policy for use of the platform. The working group, established by Education Committee, includes academic representatives experienced in teaching delivery from every Faculty, ISD representation and student representatives from each School.

Opting out of automatic transcripts and captions

The ‘opt-out’ approach will ensure the greatest possible opportunity for students to gain accessible learning materials, whilst allowing staff to make their own choice about whether or not their lectures are transcribed.  

Staff who do not wish to have a transcript associated with their recording(s) can opt out. Find out more about how to opt out. 

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding ASR and Lecturecast, please email:

digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk