Mutare Finds a New Use for Its Speech-to-Text App
Originally developed as a productivity-enhancing tool for voicemail management in the enterprise, Mutare’s giSTT speech-to-text application has found a grateful following among those who, until now, were unable to utilize voicemail because of hearing impairments.
giSTT automatically delivers a text transcription of voicemail messages to users’ email inboxes or mobile devices so they can read, rather than listen to, the content of the message. To the average user, that translates to hours of time saved in voicemail management and response. But to the hearing impaired, it means equal access to a world of communications that, until now, was simply unavailable to them.
"I just can’t begin to tell you how much it has helped me in my daily functions," says Michelle Carpenter, assistant controller for the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, Ore. "I have difficulty on the phone understanding people at times, depending on their pitch and if they have an accent, so having their names, phone numbers, and the reason they're calling transcribed for me before I even get on the phone is extremely useful."
As with any disability, living and working with a hearing loss is a continual exercise in adaptation, notes Carpenter. "For example, before I had access to the Mutare giSTT service, I was often forwarding my voicemail to a colleague for her help. If I did pick up a call without sending it to voicemail first and it was from a person who I found difficult to understand, I would have to ask them to repeat their name multiple times. If I was lucky, I might catch that they're an employee, so then I could ask for their social security number and look them up in the payroll software. Numbers are far easier to understand than words. But then comes the issue of understanding the reason for their call. It only gets worse from there."
With giSTT voicemail to email transcription, Carpenter now not only sees the identity of the caller in the header of the email, but also the content of the message in text. "Just having the context for the call spelled out helps hearing-impaired people to fill in the blanks of what they might miss during a conversation," she says. "Nowadays, if I don't recognize the phone number that is calling me, I will automatically send it to voicemail just so I can get the transcription first. For me, the advent of this service is an absolute boon to my ability to understand what people are saying."
Scott Brown, director of sales at Mutare, notes that a growing number of large service-oriented organizations, such as State Fund of California, are reporting the additional benefit of giSTT implementation for their hearing-impaired employees. "As the first company to offer enterprise speech-to-text for voicemail, we take great pride in seeing its value grow for our customers, not only as a powerful, enterprise-wide business communication tool, but also one that can help organizations meet the needs of employees with disabilities and the requirements for reasonable accommodations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act," he says.
Ed O'Brien, Mutare's chief information officer, agrees. As a person with lifelong hearing loss and member of the giSTT product development team, O'Brien understands the benefits of voicemail-to-text for the hearing-impaired as well as its implication for reasonable accommodation under ADA. "We get feedback constantly from our customers who tell us they can't imagine ever going back to tradition voicemail. But for the hearing-impaired user, the accommodation is especially significant. And one would be hard-pressed to consider the cost of less than $1 per week anything but reasonable."
The Mutare giSTT application works with virtually any enterprise voicemail platform and any email system, and requires no desktop client to install or maintain.
Developments in assistive technologies are removing barriers for many.