According to the Federal Statistical Office, more than 10% of the population in Germany lives with a disability. For this reason, the German state – following the EU-wide guidelines regarding digital accessibility – has legally introduced the integration of people with disabilities. These guidelines ensure that everyone – regardless of their abilities – has unrestricted access to public online information and technologies. Each federal state is responsible for implementing these guidelines. In this case, the state of Thuringia has initiated a digital accessibility project for all public institutions, which is subsidised by the state and aims to accelerate initiatives that lead to greater digital accessibility.
Friedrich Schiller University Jena has around 18,000 students and is one of the oldest universities in Germany. As part of the state project “inclusive university”, the University of Jena has set itself the goal, among other things, of providing subtitles for all its digital lecture recordings – ideally with minimal effort.
With the project and funding from the Free State of Thuringia, the University of Jena began the search for an automatic transcription and subtitling tool that could help make all past and future video content accessible to all students – not so easy with a volume of over 50,000h over 2 years. Furthermore, it should be a tool that can be integrated into the open-source video management system Opencast in order to be able to automate the process.
The University of Jena wanted to introduce a university-wide tool for automatic subtitles to make lecture recordings & co. accessible to all. Therefore, an open tender was issued with strict data protection and technical requirements – including that the future provider must have active and ongoing integration with Opencast to seamlessly integrate existing and new processes. This meant that only selected providers were shortlisted.
Since joining the Opencast community in 2018, the University of Jena has tested a number of providers to see who can best meet the requirements.
Many of the already experienced Opencast members recommended Amberscript. As a purely European and 100% DSGVO compliant company, Amberscript was the first choice. Amberscript has already been integrated into Opencast for about two years and also supplies other Opencast members with automatic and manual subtitles. In addition, Amberscript offers automatic speech recognition that is specially trained for academic content.
Opencast is an open-source video management system created and continuously developed by a developer community of leading universities and companies worldwide. Amberscript already works with many German universities that use Opencast – such as the University of Jena – to make their digital content digitally accessible with the least possible effort. The API integration makes it easy to automate the creation and addition of automatic as well as manual transcripts and subtitles to audio or video content.
Amberscript also offers numerous other API functions that help create accurate subtitles (in 15 different languages) – including a custom glossary, optimal formatting of subtitles via AI, and most recently the function of automatic subtitle translation.
Through this collaboration with Amberscript, the University of Jena now automatically subtitles all lecture and class recordings with a fully automated workflow via the Opencast integration for more digital accessibility on the intranet and extranet. In addition, the university uses the purchased contingent to support research projects where, for example, qualitative interviews need to be transcribed.
Tino Tschiesche from the University Computer Centre
“The implementation in Opencast after the purchase was super easy and worked flawlessly”
Owing to the initiative to acquire and use a university-wide subtitling tool, the University of Jena is a pioneer in digital accessibility in Germany, setting an example for other universities and public institutions.