Is Your University or College Captioning Their Commencement Ceremonies?

If not, you may want to encourage them to do so.  The process is simple, and it provides accessibility to one of the most important ceremonies of one's life: GRADUATION.  Read below for some answers to some common questions I get regarding captioning for these important life events.

What is the purpose for captioning commencements?

The purpose of closed captioning commencements is obvious: to provide access to viewers who are unable to hear the ceremony.

Who views the captioning and where do they view it?

Captions are usually present on screens at the commencement itself, on the web for live viewing, and potentially broadcast on a local station and viewed by the family or friends of graduates, graduates themselves, or perhaps the faculty members of the school.  If not present at the ceremony, viewers can connect to the ceremony from a home computer or from portable devices like laptop computers, PDAs, Smart Phones, et cetera.

For the captioner, what preparation goes into captioning for a commencement ceremony?

A live captioner will usually want to get names of speakers, especially the keynote speaker and valedictorian, and whoever else may be speaking during the ceremony. The captioner should familiarize themselves with the city the commencement is located in and its adjoining cities, as these names may be mentioned during the ceremony.  Depending on keynote speaker, the captioner will do some online research about the speaker's history and life so they can learn where she/he lives, works, what their "claim to fame" is.  This information will need to be defined in their dictionary.

How long are commencement ceremonies?

They can vary from three to six hours, depending on the size of the school and graduating class.

Does one captioner do the entire commencement?  If not, how do they transition?

Many times, one captioner will caption the entire commencement.  If it is extremely long, then two captioners will work on the captioning.  Usually at a predetermined point, for example, at the top of the hour, the first captioner will sign off with a [pause in captions] on the screen, until the second captioner dials in and gets linked up and they take over.

Does the captioner get a list of graduates beforehand?  If not, how do they caption the names? 

They usually do NOT get a list of the graduates.  When the graduates are announced, they are usually instructed to not write during that time, although sometimes they may write something like [names being read].

What does a captioner do if they do not know how to spell somebody's name or they do not have it in their dictionary?

The captioner will usually phonetically spell the person's last name as opposed to the first name.

Which universities and colleges currently caption their commencement ceremonies?

Many schools caption their commencement ceremonies, but some specific school who we have captioned for or will caption for this year include:

"A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that 'individuality' is the key to success."  ~Robert Orben

For more information on closed captioning commencement ceremonies, contact us.