Accessibility Feed

Zoom does Dial In


Conference Calls, those audio broadcast boxes delivering disembodied voices to the meeting table seem to be a thing of the past since covid introduced everyone to video meetings and webinars.

It is important to remember that not everyone has the luxury of adequate bandwidth to attend video meetings or webinars.

I always reiterate to people when I talk about video event platforms that I am a reluctant Zoom user. A zoom power use I might add as mastery of the settings extend the functionality of Zoom in some extraordinary ways.

This post is to bring attention a much overlook feature of Zoom. Its capacity to offer landline dial in access to those with no internet at all.

The pure audio experience with a receiver tucked in tightly to your ear or in these times of tech, perhaps hands free, sat back in an arm chair!

As I’m Zoom prepping for the Royal Historical Society I recalled how the last lecture did indeed have several dialled in attendees.

I want to encourage this more.

There are many reasons why your attendees might prefer the off screen, audio only experience.

Its time to step up the accessibility announcement in the continuity script I prepare for hosts.

The what I fondly refer to as the ‘hair and flair’ self described welcome for the partially signed and blind members of the audience. Those who have no use for the closed captions but do appreciate an added dimension of vocally expressed enrichment for their experience.

Audio Description of the lecture slides is a consideration in need of thought. During the first lockdown I had the joy of consulting and zoom controlling for theatre company, NotNowCollective. This was first time working directly with an audience description author.

The art of saying everything with very little!
This isn’t a post about AD but needs to be a future post.
Comment if you agree.

So don’t forget dial in is an option for Zoom especially if you want to reach a wider audience.

Care Homes for instance. If anyone would like to talk about how I’d be happy to share further thoughts on extending audience and suggest technical provision. The Royal Historical Society and the Society for Study of French History both use my services to host their Zoom lecture series. There lectures are free to attend.

The dial in details are often omitted on the assumption they aren’t required but.. if you want to join a zoom and don’t have internet remember you can request the dial in details.

RHS Events Programme, 2022


002 - Headliner: podcast visuals, transcripts, captions and more.

97B87A90-8B3E-438C-BB87-93B3013642B1Following a request for a recommendation on Twitter for speech to text transcription options I waded in perhaps a little too eagerly before reading the context of the post request for recommendation for responding.

Transcription from audio for a text record and extracting text for uploading as caption are similar by not the same.

I immediately recommend Headliner. I love services that evolve and extend their usefulness. I first used Headliner to generate overlay audio waveforms to present podcasts for viewing when uploaded to video services.

Last year I worked on a spoken word project requiring captions to accentuate particular words and phrases. It was also audio and needed audio visualisation. I went to Headliner to generate a selection of waveforms, Headliner calls these audiograms, to demonstrate the options and discovered the transcription for captions feature. For transparency I haven't as yet fully pushed Headliners captioning feature to the max but I wanted to tell this story.

NOTE: the waveforms are generated using Headliner the words were created using titles in iMovie as they needed to be closely match to the intonation of the narrators words and inflections. 

After an exchange on Twitter with Headliner we scheduled a video call for me to share my Headliner experience.

Using the scheduling power of Calendly I had a great chat with Mike Sands from development at Headliner.

The generation of transcripts I’ll deal with tomorrow but for closed captions which is where headliner can facilitate and excel as a player in the field for affordable rich featured captioning I wanted to share it with you. The purpose of this blog is really to highlight the  issue below that having a conversation directly with a platform's development team can facilitate.

Headliner also takes SRT file and can export SRT files. SRT are text format files that time code each line for a duration to appear on screen.

Here is an example of a few lines for an SRT file

00:00:47.769 --> 00:00:51.002
Potato? Potato?

00:00:52.584 --> 00:00:54.030

00:00:54.409 --> 00:00:56.365

00:00:58.498 --> 00:00:59.883
Oh, hello.

00:01:02.233 --> 00:01:04.216
You haven't seen a potato anywhere, have you?

00:01:06.389 --> 00:01:07.611

00:01:08.381 --> 00:01:09.528
He ran off.

SRT buffering was my 'you could be the golden goose' opportunity. Completed videos are provided from artists for live screening or on demand viewing. But… the festival may wish to insert a pre show bumper to brand the experience. That add time to the start of the video file and thereby changes the time code for the start of the captions. You can see this from the time stamps in the example from Shona Reppe’s Potato Needs a Bath digital experience -

For the 2021 SparkArts Festival a bumper lasting just under 47 seconds was inserted at the start. To off set the start of the captions was a trial by fire. Every time code through the entire SRT file needs adjusting. The example shows less than a minute of the show in lasted 30 mins.

This conversation revealing this step in a process is an opportunity. I had to download and install sub shifter could Headliner keep me in the platform.
Lets hope this small hurdle but useful addition gets actioned.

If you want to try out headliner here is a link for a free trial. After you can use the free features or pay for a month or for a year.




Headliner evolution - closed captioning got more awesome


I love it when platforms and service I use evolve. It can be frustrating when you are mid project but returning to a innovative trusted service to discover its way better that you left it is great.

This is what happened with Headliner.

Headliner is an audio to wave form visuals generator for podcasts and it now has closed captioning.
And more. And it has an app!

Making media often combines several platforms, tools and services. 
Working with storyteller Tim Ralphs combining Headliner will be a tool providing some of the foundation narration visuals.

There is a free forever tier, $9.99 & $25.99 p/mth (less if you sign up for the year) I tend to use services on a project by project basis until my consecutive use makes it worth the annual investment.
Time limit inside a single account is the confines of Headliner when using the transcription feature. 5 videos only 10 mins p/mth transcription.


Quickly grab people’s attention and let them know podcast audio playing with one of our awesome audio visualizers

Unlimited Videos

Promote your podcast with as many videos as you want, optimized for every social media channel

Full Episode

Publish your entire podcast episode (2-hour max) to YouTube and engage new audiences

Audio Transcription

Automatically transcribe audio to add captions to your videos to increase engagement and accessibility

Video Transcription

Headliner can transcribe from video too! If you’ve got content, we can help you add captions

Audio Clipper

Select clips of your podcast audio that are perfectly optimized for each social channel

Multiple Sizes

Export your videos in the optimal size for each social network and beyond

1080p Export

Look great on screens large and small with full high-definition video

Text Animation

Choose from tons of text animations or create your own to add extra visual interest to your videos

Audio / Speech to text (with free tiers)

Prior to Covid I was never far from my Livescribe pen and notebook. The Livescribe pen enables me to take notes while it records the audio in the room. Following the meeting at the tap of the nib on a word the audio is played back from the moment the tapped word was written. My written notes were digitised and converted into text I then copy and paste the text into a google doc. On the occasion I needed the full transcription I’d export the audio file from the pen and import it to Otter. 

Otter was also an app I’d run on my phone and with permission of the room, I’d capture full transcripts while using my Livescribe pen for notes.

Then came Covid. My pen was rendered useless as I wore headphones for video calls. Early on as I familiarised myself with Zoom and its settings I discovered Zoom could connect to Otter for live transcription and in turn provided in a side by side browser window captions for deaf, hard of hearing and those ‘listening’ with audio off or turned right down.

Over the course of the Lockdown Otter evolved to provide on-screen subtitles. For me, its major use has been to provide a record and transcribe my meetings.
It’s pretty accurate. However, I have discovered we are not! Transcription for presentations with intended even partly rehearsed, structured speech renders full sentences. Free thought discussions and conversations I have found flip mid-sentence between future and present tenses. People frequently do not complete sentences or infer a list and then fail to fulfil the points.

My solution within my workflow which facilitates closed captions as a service in my work uses Otter’s business tier. The tiers are Basic (free) Pro and Business. The free tier does not connect to Zoom and importing audio for transcription is limited to 3 before an upgrade is required.




You can use the Basic free plan of Otter as long as you'd like, but there are a few usage limits to keep in mind.

  • Transcription limit - Up to 600 minutes per month
  • Transcription duration- Up to 40 minutes per transcription
  • File imports- Import up to three audio or video files

Best #voicenote tool EVER. IMHO (in my humble opinion), 600 free #transcription minutes a month!

Here is the CC 1 month free trial code - “OTTER_TRIAL

Here are alternative options.

If you are a Microsoft 360 user Word has a speech to text and audio import for transcription built-in.



FREE - 300 minutes (5 hours) of audio per month

Just a note about how awesome Otter’s customer support is. In the early days of covid when I first used Otter to provide CC in Zoom Webinar, an Otter support rep joined my webinar rehearsal and actually talked me through the set up when I was struggling. They are fast to respond to support requests and meticulously follow up.

Let me know your solution. Any further question please comment below.



Have you had enough Zoom? One more it should be this one.

Niche information sessions serve 2 purposes. One, to unite and recognise the niche, and Two for those not resident within the niche to gain greater understanding and advocacy.

Equity's Equalities Committees are hosting a series of weekly virtual coffees to help members to keep connected. Every Thursday at 11.30am performance industry professionals gather on Zoom to hear from Equity members, staff and activists on an array of topics, ask questions and share experiences.

Equity’s next Zoom’s In On is zooming in on Dyslexia.

Around 10% of adults in the UK have dyslexia, and some drama schools report that up to 30% of their students are dyslexic.

It's not just coming out of drama school but a life long understanding of adapting and understanding life as it is perceived by your brain. How do you manage, work and co-create with #Dyslexia and help those around you to do the same.

Join to hear experiences of being dyslexic in the industry, what support is available and what best practice looks like in the workplace and casting process.

There will be a chance to hear from invited speakers and ask your questions.

Equity make these meetings fully inclusive and accessible. If you have any access needs - for example, if you need a BSL interpreter or if you are dyslexic and would benefit from alternatives to using the chat function for the meeting, please email Lottie on [email protected].

Captioning is available via for any meeting by clicking on the icon on the top left of the screen.

It's good for non-dyslexics to attend. There is additional funding to be had with dyslexics on your production. Extra good planning is needed as time moves slightly differently. To accommodate Dyslexic thinking presents immeasurable rewards. Sustainability and focus being just 2 major advantages. I see my dyslexia as a gift but it needs management and understanding.

Join us to hear speakers talk about their experiences, what support is available and what best practice looks like

Equity Zooms in on - archive

Neurodiversity Affinity - #Dyslexia and All

West Midlands Neurodiversity Theatre Network met this evening. This was my first time. Thank you Tracey Briggs fellow dyslexia. The host was Birmingham playwright Matthew Gabrelli.

Holly Clark was his guest, a midlands based theatre maker who iscurrently developing an arts council supported project about dyspraxia. She shared with us her experiences working with an access worker to support the completion of her recent successful Arts Council Application.

I was surprised at how at ease I felt. I didn’t want to hide my divergence. I was curious to know how the others would express theirs. I need not have worried. There was a comradely clarity we just knew. I hope the others felt the same. We shared.

I will be looking for a support worker to help align my world view moire patterns I inevitably have to tackle to put pen to paper.


Video Help Desk for your Digital Events

I have been on HelpDesk duty today.

With multiple-sessioned events like festivals, across multiple platforms for attendees, guests, speakers, performers and crew the thing that is painfully absent with digital and its zeros and ones is the corridors, the greenroom, the watercooler, the bar and the liminal spaces.

The space between the spaces.

QuiQuo do this well and event wrappers have potential to accommodate this but to date these wrappers have been outside my budget and production timescale. Digital Stagemanagement and the production consulting tend to be too late in the precession for me to augment in these options. 

A single help desk is the first step. It becomes an anchor point between physical and digital in-person encounters. It’s a point of real present. This I can do with Whereby. I have 10 rooms some are on loan to groups and some like this help desk for SparkFestival is a special hosting.

This was my toolset today

  • Whereby - a super simple easy access for first time tech shy audiences. I settled on this platform prior to COVID when another app to download or service to sign up to was enough to stifle or demotivate any engagement.
  • Splashtop xDisplay - connects a second device to enable monitoring while focusing on your main screen.
  • iPad as a second screen with xDisplay - an old iPad 2 connects to extend your desktop. I use this on a stand on my desk for ficus timer and for general social media and news notifications. 

Finally I have 2 documents prepared specifically for this help desk. A festival reference with all the info including ticket links and zoom access links to each performance or workshop and a intro guide to Whereby as a help desk including a outline of the visitor experience.

  1. Helpdesk document - Festival Programme (private document not available to share)
  2. Helpdesk document - How To for team staffing -

This service is integral to my Extended The Audience offering when compiling extended audience packages. If you want to know more please get in touch.

I must also thank Alison Rouse who staffed the majority of the sessions enabling me to focus on the main digital auditorium as Zoom controller throughout the opening days of the festival.

Note To Self - 01

New thing learnt today.

Zoom closed captions using Otter can be turned on or off but not while sharing your screen.

Why did I find this out?

Today’s Sketchbook of Vital Ideas event today one of the videos being screened contained baked in subtitles. The artist asked if the auto generated caption could be paused. I checked and Yes.

Time came and I shared the video. All good. It was playing and the chat was quiet so I turned to pausing the captions only to discover in screen-share mode there was no CC access on the toolbar.

I only remembered this when the second video was screened and I was already in screen-share mode!

Note to self. In future if captions need to be paused. Add this as an action before actioning the screen-share.

Otter transcription and closed captions - 1 month free with code OTTER_TRIAL



There’s an app for that! Time shifting a .srt file

Take a video and a subtitling file




So good so far


Now edit to the beginning a bumper with branding as an intro.


Now my time synced SRT file is 37.7 seconds out of sync!


As each caption is time stamped I needed to dynamically insert the time block at the start and have the each line time shift to accommodate.



SubShifter: Sync subtitles by iSolid apps


This app saved my sanity today. 

This is a Mac App.



Closed Captions the easy way with Zubtitles

One good imperative to come from online events, meetings, performances and conferences precipitated by the Covid pandemic is the recognition that accessibility online is not only respectful and supremely possible but opens doors to previously excluded audiences.

Audiences as entire communities. Communities have cohesive dialogue. Provision before attendance must be in balance.

Closed Captions are the most prevalent support for access. Attention for the provision need the allocation of resources and time. 

For real time transcription and subtitles I use Otter. For captioning I have discovered Zubtitles. Brilliant. Styled and baked onto videos or generate srt files slit timed to perfection to upload to video hosting. 


Referal code - ICH027

Yes it’s true captions enable videos to be watch on mute but for those needing the facility for access it’s an overture of equality. It’s an even playing field.

I have started including voicing readings of the newsletters I produce for Equity’s Online Branch. I will include them in my own.

I would like to learn British Sign Language too. I am looking to establish connection to include sign interpretation on projects in the future. It’s only with these provision supports in place can the communities participate with ease.