Hey, Siri — Are We There Yet? The State of ASR & Synthesized Speech for Captioning & Description

Handouts Media

Presented at 10:30am in Cotton Creek I on Friday, November 22, 2019.



  • Elisa Lewis, Content Marketing Manager, 3Play Media

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


We'll cover two different speech technologies – ASR and synthesized speech - and where they succeed and fail when it comes to accessible video. We expect to see continuous improvements in ASR for captioning and transcription. However, with current technology, we have a starting point of (about) 80% accuracy, which is not acceptable for captioning.


What is the current state of speech technology? Do we still need humans? In this presentation, we will look at where speech technology succeeds and where it fails when it comes to captioning and description. We’ll discuss whether automatic speech recognition (ASR) will be sufficient for closed captioning – or even for live captioning and if synthesized speech is a real option for audio description output.

We’re often asked these questions, and it’s no wonder: the more organizations can rely on automated technology, the cheaper these expensive accessibility requirements will become. While utilizing speech technology has never been a more viable option, there are still weaknesses that make humans a necessity.


  1. Why speech recognition for captioning and transcription is harder
  2. Current ASR capabilities for captioning and transcription
  3. Pros and cons of synthesized speech for audio description

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology, Legal, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Elisa Lewis

Elisa Edelberg Lewis is a Content Marketing Manager at 3Play Media. She creates and produces educational content related to all things web and video accessibility. You can find her blogs, white papers and webinars online or see her present live at accessibility-focused conferences around the country. Her passion for making the world a more accessible and equal place is what inspires her to continue working on projects such as Faces Behind the Screen, which showcases the experiences of those who are d/Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and low vision. Outside of the office you may find Elisa spending time with her rescue dog, Emmie, or working on her latest craft project.


AHG 2019_ Hey, Siri! Are we there yet_ (1)AHG 2019_ Hey, Siri! Are we there yet_