The Difference Between On-site Captioning and Remote Captioning
By Deanna Baker, RMR, Flagstaff, Ariz.
There are many differences not only logistically but also with the equipment used in both of these settings.
While doing remote captioning, most often from your home, you will need different equipment than you would for on-site work. The basic equipment consists mainly of a computer with captioning software, telephone lines, modems, back-up phone lines, back-up equipment, Internet access, headsets, steno writer with backups, surge protectors, power supply, and so forth. (There are many different articles now available on remote captioning that list the type of equipment you will need. One is "Captioning on the Home Front" by Kathy Robson in the November-December 1998 JCR.)
When you're working on-site, there are many scenarios; no two on-site captioning jobs are exactly alike. Work out the contract issues - i.e. compensation and expenses (travel, lodging, meals)- in advance. Also, if at all possible, talk with your client's audio/visual contact, but remember that the A/V person considers you to be the "captioning expert" and will be asking you questions and expecting answers.
For on-site work, the captioner is now connecting directly to the encoder and not using a modem. So your notebook computer needs a port assignment for the encoder, in addition to your steno machine, and knowing how to set that up with your captioning software and operating system is a must. Determine who is bringing the encoder, what kind it is, and who is providing the cable from the encoder to the captioner's computer. (It is most often a dedicated cable provided when purchased from the encoder company, but verify this.) Also, the A/V people will need video cables to and from the encoder, but they will be looking to you for directions if they have not worked with an encoder before. Other pieces of equipment you will need on-site are headphones and adapters with large and small plugs (as you never know what audio source will be used; that needs to be clarified with the A/V contact).
Knowing what is expected of the captioner is vital information to have ahead of time. Make sure to ask these questions:
- Where are you going to be physically at the venue?
- Will you have a table, chair, electricity available nearby, lighting (if necessary)?
- Is there a scheduled test time?
- Who is your contact?
- Where are you to meet?
- How long are you expected to be there each day?
- Do you need back-up pieces of equipment?
- Are you able to troubleshoot technical issues or have someone available who can?
- Are you working with another captioner?
- Will you be provided prep material? If so, when and by whom?
- Will Internet access be available and/or necessary on-site?
- Is there a dress code?
- Will you have a monitor to watch your captions?
- Are transcripts expected? If so, when and in what format?
- What are your expected work hours, and are arrangements made if sessions run over/under?
Captioning on-site can be fun as well as a challenge. But as with any new assignment, being fully prepared will make the job more enjoyable.
About the Author
Contributing Editor Deanna Baker, RMR, is willing to answer your questions about captioning. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.