A Conversation with Arlington County's Government Cable Channel

In this video, Becky Isaacs, Executive Vice President of Aberdeen Broadcast Services, interviews Rob and David from Arlington County, Virginia. The two have been partners in live captioning for the past decade. Rob serves as the executive producer for Arlington County's government cable channel, which encompasses both live streaming and traditional cable TV programming. Meanwhile, David manages engineering, provides production assistance, and oversees live captioning.

Arlington TV is the visual communications channel for Arlington County Government and serves a country of about 230,000 people. Described as a hyper-local version of C-SPAN, Arlington TV broadcasts county board meetings, commission meetings, talk shows, and community town hall meetings. With a mixture of cord-cutters and cable television subscribers in the community, it’s important that their programming is available across multiple outlets – Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, and online platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Granicus.

Rob and David describe their technical setup, which involves connecting Aberdeen's live captioners to their audio and video systems via analog phone lines and the EGHT 1430 Ross OpenGear card, with Granicus handling the video feed and captions. This setup ensures that live captions are integrated into their broadcast and streaming content. They share advice for others in a similar position, emphasizing the importance of having a reliable setup and the benefits of human captioners for context and troubleshooting. They appreciate Aberdeen's flexibility and availability during unpredictable meetings, demonstrating a strong working relationship.

Arlington County began captioning due to a Justice Department requirement for ADA compliance. They had issues with smaller captioning companies in the beginning but eventually found Aberdeen back in 2009. Rob and David expressed their deep appreciation for Aberdeen's captioning services. They emphasized the absence of problems and the seamless captioning experience – Rob likened this achievement to an Emmy or Academy Award, highlighting that they haven't received complaints in many years, a testament to Aberdeen's reliability. David is particularly impressed by Aberdeen's accuracy and speed in handling challenging speakers, including those with accents or speech impediments. Aberdeen's team, including captioners and account managers, ensures that captioning support is available regardless of the time, accommodating early morning and late-night meetings.

Rob and David acknowledge that captioning often goes unnoticed when it works seamlessly, and they appreciate how Aberdeen's human captioners excel in understanding context, resulting in more accurate and contextually relevant captions. This focus on enhancing the viewer experience underscores the value of their partnership with Aberdeen.