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Alan Parks - University of Maine Commencement Captioning Coordination

The University of Maine 2009 Commencement added many high-tech features, greatly enhancing the audience experience and, more importantly, increasing access to the speakers’ text. Captioning was continued in 2010.

Caption board at far end of Alfond Arena

Caption board at far end of Alfond Arena

Alfond Arena has a new four-sided digital screen hanging from the center of the ceiling and two large rectangular digital screens hanging of the goal cages at either end. These electronic additions allowed the display of pre-taped videos and live video of the stage on the center screens and the display of text on the end screens. The two end screens can be viewed from every seat in Alfond Arena.

The Commencement Committee hired a CART captioner, Shari Majeski of Maine CART and Captioning Services,

Captioner and engineer view the screens

Captioner and engineer view the screens

to caption the Commencement proceedings. She captioned all of the speakers’ text except for the student names during the conferral of diplomas–nearly two hours of captioning during both the morning and afternoon ceremonies.

The system that drives the new video screens is supplied by the Daktronics Company. Claude Junkins, UMaine Engineer, established a virtual private network (VPN) for Shari to log in to. As she operated her captioning software, it dumped her text to a plain text file that was continuously uploaded to the Daktronics through the VPN. Shari and Claude spent many hours in the weeks and day prior to make their two systems play well. They succeeded!

Large view of Alfond and screens

Large view of Alfond and screens

There were many positive comments from attendees about the captioning and about finally being able to understand what the speakers were saying. The Disability Services director reported that this is the first year ever that she received no requests for ASL Interpreting services. She usually receives at least a half dozen requests. This suggests that the community read this year’s Commencement notices about captioning.

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