Dr Yunjia Li

When Disabled Student Allowance funding for transcription services and note-takers was abolished in 2016, universities scrambled to find ways of supporting disabled students. Existing transcription services were prohibitively expensive and disabled students were at risk of missing out on hours of lectures each week.

Dr Yunjia Li and Professor Mike Wald founded Synote to address the need for accessible lecture videos. Synote is designed to deliver videos that are less costly and produced quicker than traditional methods. The system automatically generates an interactive transcript and captions from a video or audio copy of a lecture, and can integrate with university lecture-capture systems. 

Synote can process the many tens of thousands of lectures given at universities each year, and users can quickly search through their transcripts for specific topics. The system even creates screenshots for each part of the lecture which can be printed with the transcript. Synote can also be used to automatically translate lecture transcripts into other languages, which can open up university education to a much broader base of international students. A unique ‘feedback loop’ enables students to correct speech recognition transcription errors to continually improve the transcript’s accuracy as the system ‘learns’ how to match new words with sounds.

Southampton University has invested significantly in Synote and other leading universities have expressed great interest. The ability to improve the learning experience of all students and particularly students with difficulties hearing or understanding lecturers, taking notes or attending lectures is of great value and significance to these institutions.

Although Synote was originally developed for universities, it can reduce the cost of captions and transcriptions in any business where video or audio recordings are used.

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