Tharindu presented the results of a small study at her college in which 283 students and 27 tutors rated the automatic transcripts of a series of webinars on different topics. A large majority of the students and tutors, and almost all international students without English as a first language, found these transcripts helpful despite a fairly low reported average word-for-word accuracy of only 73.3%. A student with dyslexia was particularly enthusiastic about them. Most students and tutors who had no additional needs reported that they found the transcripts useful if the lecturer had spoken too fast or with an unfamiliar accent, or if the audio quality had been poor. Options to download the transcripts in different formats were valued particularly by those with poor connections, who could choose the format that generated the smallest files.
As Tharindu admitted, this was a small and, in some ways, quite limited study, with few participants with any declared disability. The transcripts were least successful in the more specialist disciplines, suggesting that, as expected, the software had difficulty transcribing key technical terms. There might also be a drop in enthusiasm once the novelty factor has worn off. Nevertheless, the study suggested that students and tutors will be prepared and even happy to accept automatic transcripts that are ‘good enough’ rather than perfect. And, as so often happens, an innovation that was designed to improve accessibility for disabled users has been found to benefit the whole user community.