Let this serve as a general notice of the launch of the Global Alliance of Speech-to-Text Captioning (Facebook). Without getting into too many politics, I think most of us assume it’s good to have an authority or lobbying body for a specific field. For a long time, people were looking to NCRA to be that for the stenographic captioners. In many ways, NCRA is. The membership didn’t feel comfortable changing the name, so they changed the tag line and have made every effort to include captioners. If we see a membership drift, perhaps it’s a sign that we need to be more assertively inclusive of all stenographers. If we see a lot of dual memberships, then it’s a sign that the two have common ground.
Regardless, this new entity, GASTC, has a mission to become a similar pillar of guidance in the field. Hoping for good things and a gilded age of standards, goals, and consumer advocacy in the captioning field. As time goes on and if GASTC settles in as expected, the organizations can work together to ensure that those that need captioning are given the very best service. There’s a strong hearing loss advocate, Gael Hannan, among their founding members, so this seems like a very serious endeavor with a real plan to be impactful and beneficial to the end user of captioning services.
In an attempt to get more information, I reached out to Steve Clark via e-mail with two very basic questions. My first question was with regard to bylaws. Will the bylaws be published or available to members only? The answer was clear and simple: The bylaws will be available to anyone who wants to see them and posted on the website very soon. Then I asked if there’s anything they wanted to tell this audience, with the understanding that this is a primarily stenographic audience, and I got back:
“What are the Vision and Mission of the Global Alliance? Our Vision is simple: Universal accessibility to the spoken word via all forms of captioning. And our Mission: To be the leading professional authority on speech-to-text captioning, representing all captioners, consumers, and industry.
The Global Alliance is a group of thought leaders pursuing the need for an organization that solely focuses on the profession of captioning. The Global Alliance is comprised of captioners, regardless of the method used to produce captions; all consumers, regardless of where they use captions and how; and all industry, regardless of size, history, or location.
The Global Alliance was started by three stenographic captioners — Steve Clark, Karyn Menck, and Jen Schuck — each of whom has more than 20 years of captioning experience. The three of them represent a constituency of professionals that strongly believes in the need for this Alliance. The other three Board members are Caryn Broome, a voice writer captioner; Will Lewis, with Microsoft; and Gael Hannan, a caption consumer who is hard of hearing and is an advocate and public speaker. We will fill the four remaining Board of Directors positions from our general membership. Our intent is to fully represent the diversity of our membership by appointing additional Directors who are caption consumers and/or who represent industry.
Our Founding Members campaign is now under way and runs through October. Once the Founding Members campaign has concluded, the call for general membership will begin on November 1. We have one class of membership; everyone pays the same dues of $195 per year; and every member has equal voting rights.
Next steps for the Global Alliance include creating a certification for all captioning methods and translating and disseminating evidence-based information to support informed decision-making by all who are involved in creating and using quality captioning. The certification process will test captioning accuracy and quality in a real-world environment.
The Global Alliance intends to be the leading authority on every aspect of captioning. We shall represent the professional interests of our captioner members, listen to and act on feedback and recommendations from our consumer members, and implement changes within the organization based on input from our industry members.
This is an exciting time for the Global Alliance. There is much work to be done, and we want and value your input. We hope you will join with us as, together, we lead the way and chart the course for every aspect of captioning!”
I thought it was an enthusiastic response worthy of disclosing in full. Good luck to the founding members on this journey, and to any who join as general members when the enrollment period begins.