We’re all about inclusion

Ai-Media is founded on the belief that every single person deserves equal access. From Facebook and NASA to global events and local classes, our solutions address three key needs – accessibility, engagement and analytics. With a product portfolio spanning captioning, transcription, translation, audio description and speech analytics, we help you reach your whole audience.

Since being established in 2003, Ai-Media has continued to broaden our initial mission of creating captions for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. We now offer products for broadcast, education, events and workplaces to support our mission of inclusion for all. We have become a world leader in delivering the highest quality at the most competitive prices, leveraging our expertise and advanced technologies.

ai media sydney team
photo of alex and tony, ai-media founders

How it all started

Alex Jones, the co-founder of Ai-Media, had a keener interest than most in creating access for people with disability. Alex was born deaf and grew up not having the same level of access to daily tasks as his hearing friends.

Then Alex met Tony, another keen advocate for people with disability. Tony, having returned from a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, was looking to make a meaningful impact on the world. Both sought to end the experience of social, educational and vocational exclusion faced by people with a disability or disadvantage. This impact materialised through the creation of Ai-Media – an advocate for the inclusion of all, through technology and social innovation.

Our Journey

2003 - Access on Pay TV

2003 access to pay tv imageIn 2003, the costs of captioning were too high for the emerging Pay TV industry. The new Pay TV providers were faced with many more channels and smaller audience shares, but were confronted with the same costs to produce an hour of captioning. Because of this, deaf people in Australia could only watch high-quality captioned TV on the five free-to-air channels.

Alex and Tony wanted to find a way to introduce captioning to Australian Pay TV. They saw an opportunity to drastically cut the costs of captioning using innovative methods such as repurposing international captions.

Never losing sight of the community’s best interests, Tony and Alex worked with industry leaders to engage the community, conducting a survey asking whether Australians valued the specific Australian captioning style, or preferred having more captioned programs regardless of captioning style. Of the 1,026 responses, all said that they wanted more captions.

For the next year, into 2004, Ai-Media put their plan into action. Ai-Media’s large-scale captioning endeavour began with Pay TV platform Foxtel. It has now grown to over 300,000 hours a year of content across hundreds of channels across the world.

2006 - Making an impact in education

image of respeaking tests back in 2006Access to TV was a huge success, but Alex and Tony knew that to have a meaningful impact on the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the key was to also innovate in the education space. Deaf students were 2.5 times less likely to finish high school, relying on note takers, sign language interpreters and lip reading to gain access to classroom content. Live captioning in the classroom would ensure that Deaf students had direct access to the English language in real time.

Up until now, live captioning for television had been delivered using professionally trained stenographers, who use a special 22 key keyboard to type at speeds of up to 240 words per minute. The problem was that this model wasn’t scalable into education. It takes four years to train a stenographer, and as such, the delivery costs were too high.

New technology presented new solutions. Speech recognition software had improved significantly, aided by leaps in computer processing speeds, making it possible to deliver live content through respeakers. Respeakers are people who listen to live content and simultaneously repeat it into speech recognition software specifically trained to their voice. Ai-Media began researching how to create a scalable solution using respeakers to deliver live captioning at the speed of speech.

2008 - First live test for classroom captions

sydney secondary college imageIn 2008, Ai-Media ran the first on-site test of live captioning for deaf students in mainstream classrooms. Partnering with the NSW Department of Education, we set up a live test at Blackwattle Bay Campus in Glebe, NSW. There, a specific classroom was chosen because it had a large broom cupboard located next door, and it was within this cupboard that our first respeaker tested the delivery of live captions for a deaf student. Our respeaker listened to the teacher and repeated the dialogue into her computer to create the live captions. The student watched these captions in real time over the school’s wi-fi. The trial was a huge success.

2010 - New Inventors win

By 2010, Ai-Media had developed a full-featured product to remotely deliver live captioning in real time. This was Ai-Live.

Ai-Live then went on to win its feature episode on the ABC’s New Inventors program. This win recognised the enormous potential impact of Ai-Live as a practical, affordable, reliable and scalable solution that allowed deaf and hard-of-hearing students to participate fully in mainstream classrooms.

2013 - The unexpected discovery

After several successful years of providing live captioning to deaf school students throughout Australia, we partnered with the University of Melbourne to research the effectiveness of live captions on improving student outcomes. The 18-month evaluation discovered that not only was live captioning helpful for the students, but there were tangible benefits for teachers too! Teachers were reviewing the transcripts of the live captions from their lessons and actually changing the way they taught their classes.

This observation gave rise to an exciting breakthrough. Having access to a transcript of their teaching allowed teachers to reflect on their teaching practice and improve. And so we began working on a new project with the University of Melbourne called Visible Classroom.

2014 - Captioning for students with autism

In 2014, Ai-Media went global, opening our European headquarters in London. In the UK, we met Eileen Hopkins, an expert in the field of autism. We worked with Eileen to develop a style of live captioning suited to a wider range of students, including those with ASD. Our new Simple Text captions summarised content to make it more accessible by removing language ambiguities, metaphor and unnecessary complexity. This innovation was a success and brought captions into classrooms throughout the UK.

2017 Partnership with Facebook

Facebook announced Ai-Media’s support for the display of closed captions on Facebook Live streams. This marked a milestone in making videos on Facebook accessible to all members of the community. With the power of streaming captions, we are now able to provide accessibility to more people with live video on Facebook.
Introducing Facebook live captions

This is the Facebook Live feature you've been waiting for.

Posted by Ai-Media on Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2019 - Ai-Media launches Scribblr.ai

a screenshot of the scriblr website

Scribblr.ai is a captioning and transcription service priced at USD $1 per minute with a two-step content-checking process that ensures 99% accuracy. Scribblr.ai provides the ideal solution for content creators to develop more engaging and accessible content.

Ai-Media’s Timeline

Captioning

Quality Audit

 

Ai-Media – delivering precise captioning with an uptime quality of greater than 99.9% since March 2014.

View our ground-breaking External Captioning Quality Audit results.

screenshot image of the external caption quality audit spreadsheet

Ai-Media is making the

world’s content accessible

CONTACT US

Get in touch with our team today!

Australia / Sydney

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Singapore

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Australia / Melbourne

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USA / Youngstown

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Canada / Toronto

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Norway

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