AT Update Logo

ATU537 – Verbit with Dr. Misty Cobb

Play

AT Update Logo

Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:

Misty Cobb, Senior Customer Success Manager and Education Strategist, Verbit

Dr. Misty Cobb is a trusted education and technology leader in K-12 and higher education. Cobb works with K-12 and higher education leaders on best practices for using technology to provide accessible and equitable learning opportunities for all students. Previously she served as a business education teacher in Alabama, where her program earned recognition as a Top 10 program in the state. While working in K-12 public education, Cobb had the opportunity to support the district as a technology coordinator and member of the School Improvement Team. Cobb earned her Doctor of Education from the University of Alabama where her research centered on transformational learning in faculty professional development.

More info: https://verbit.ai

Stories:
Indiana Vision Expo: https://bit.ly/2YDRaA7
Genesys and Be My Eyes Story: https://prn.to/38Mo0R8
Hospital Robot Story: https://cnn.it/3nfCMZ0
Rail Sign Language Story: https://bit.ly/3l2eL56

——————————
If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email tech@eastersealscrossroads.org
Check out our web site: http://www.eastersealstech.com
Follow us on Twitter: @INDATAproject
Like us on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/INDATA

 

—– Transcript Starts Here —-

Dr. Misty Cobb:
Hi, I’m Dr. Misty Cobb, and a senior customer success manager at Verbit, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello, and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 537 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on September 10th, 2021. On today’s show we’re super excited to have Dr. Misty Cobb on to talk about Verbit and how it can help with all kinds of transcription needs. We also have a story about a partnership between Genesys and Be My Eyes to help individuals who are blind or low vision have a better customer service experience. A story about robots taking over a hospital in Singapore and how this might become more of the norm and a project to try to bring sign language avatars to rail yards in Amsterdam. Now let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
After all these months of lockdown, maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to, well, make sure to check out our sister podcast, Successability Minute and ATFAQ or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one minute long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something Assistive Technology based so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fix without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo. This show comes out weekly. Our other show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or ATFAQ. On Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of experts, including myself, Belvin Smith and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. The show does rely on you so we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on Assistive Technology Questions. So remember if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcast to check out, you can check out our sister shows Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ wherever you get your podcasts, now including Spotify and Amazon music.

Josh Anderson:
If you happen to be in the Indianapolis area tomorrow, September 11th 2021, please join us at the Indiana Vision Expo. This is being held at the Indiana State Library, downtown Indianapolis. It will go on from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Myself and members of my clinical team from here at Easterseals Crossroads will be in attendance as a vendor so if you do happen to make it come on over and check us out. They’ll also be presentations from Dee Dodd and Danny Wayne from The WILL center out in Terre Haute as well as Michelle Shaffer of Bosma Enterprises. So if you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday, go ahead and head on down to the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Indiana, and check out the Vision Expo. Again, that’s from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on September 11th, 2021. And if you do make it, don’t forget to stop by the Easterseals Crossroads booth and say hello.

Josh Anderson:
Our first story today actually comes from a press release. It’s titled, “Genesys and Be My Eyes partner to create accessible experiences.” This is about two companies, one, Genesys, that’s, G-E-N-E-S-Y-S, which is a global cloud leader in customer experience orchestration. Or if you kind of think those targeted ads, so you enter a place or something, and maybe you look stuff up, you’re in a certain area or vicinity and the ads you get on your phone on different apps and things will be more targeted for that area, for being in that kind of place. So I think that’s kind of what the customer experience orchestration is. And then also Be My Eyes, which has been on the show before in the past. That’s the app where visually impaired individuals can open up the app and they are linked with a volunteer who is cited, who can answer questions for them, help them with different tasks, different things that they might need, answer quick questions using the camera and microphone on their phone.

Josh Anderson:
Well, it says here that these two have partnered to assist visually impaired folks more easily navigate customer service. It says here, “With this partnership brands will now be able to gain valuable perspective from their visually impaired customers providing remote assistance to Be My Eyes users. So what this basically means is, depending on where you are, so let’s say I’m in a store and I need some assistance. I need maybe some help picking out something for some kind of reason. When I get Be My Eyes instead of having some random volunteer, I would actually have a customer service representative who has some training in dealing with individuals who have a visual impairment being able to assist them so they can assist me in finding the right thing, maybe even telling me what’s on sale, say, “Hey, here it is, but this brand’s on sale right next to it.” “Oh, that’s down on aisle seven.”

Josh Anderson:
And really be able to assist a whole lot more. And it sounds like it kind of goes both ways because they’re also getting feedback from the individuals who are seeking the assistance. So it makes for a little bit better customer experience, but also help those giving the customer service, maybe hone their skills a little bit and make it a little bit more accessible for really all individuals. This is a pretty cool partnership and I’m really kind of looking forward to seeing how it all ends up turning out. Really anything that can offer extra assistance to individuals when they’re out shopping is always great. And you can’t always find a sales associate, a lot of places are pretty short staffed right now. They’re still social distancing and other things kind of going on. So this is a really great tool to be able to help individuals in kind of their shopping and customer service experience. So we’ll put a link to this over in the show notes and hopefully maybe have them on the show here before too long to talk about this in person.

Josh Anderson:
Our next story is from CNN, written by Rebecca Cairns. It’s called, more than 50 robots are working at Singapore’s high-tech hospital. So basically the story talks about that everywhere from surgical robots to cleaning robots, to robots that bring you your food, your linens, to nurses, are all being employed in this hospital. Over 50 in total. Now, some folks may have seen some of these robots before. I believe the da Vinci is a pretty popular one. This one does some certain different surgical procedures, but some of these other ones are actually there to do group therapy, to help with PT and to help with other things like that. So I guess the big question is why? Why do we need these robots in there?

Josh Anderson:
Well, there’s a couple of different reasons. The first one, and this is not just in Singapore but in the world as a whole, there is a worldwide nurse shortage. There are not enough healthcare workers to take care of the population we currently have, much less once more and more adults get into that 65 and older range worldwide. So with the shortness in the amount of human capital of work power that you actually have, you do have to make that up somewhere and robots is one way to be able to do it. It says here Singapore already has the highest adoption rate of industrial robots in the world, with the nine robots per 100 workers. But up until now, most of this was in the electronic sector. So if you think of the videos of the robots just kind of soldering pieces to a motherboard and different things like that. But especially with the pandemic, it has made it much easier to kind of implement these robots because social distancing is pretty easy when it’s just a robot bringing you your things or even kind of talking to you.

Josh Anderson:
As you kind of read through the story, it also introduce you to Grace, which is an ultra-lifelike nurse robot. Whenever the robots get a little bit more lifelike, you always do run the risk of kind of the uncanny valley theory, which is robots become more and more life-like looking. There’s always just that little bit there off that actually ends up making them creepier, and it can really kind of cause some issues. But it does kind of talk about some different things here that can really be helpful. So, says here that some robots can aid in different kinds of patient rehabilitation as well as lifting patients back into the bed. So you think really moving folks out of their bed, transferring them to different places to take them different places, can really be some heavy duty labor and doing this repetitively over time can cause pain in the shoulders, the arms, the neck, the back, other things like that whereas a robot isn’t going to have those kinds of issues and maybe able to do this much easier and probably even safer.

Josh Anderson:
You don’t have the wear out or the burnout or the chance of probably dropping quite as much as you would with a couple of nurses or orderlies trying to move the individual. If it gets down in here, it talks about a lot of other things but one thing it does say is that adding robots are not a replacement for workers, but a support. So something to maybe take some of those parts of the job away in order to allow an individual to do a job for a whole lot longer. Those of us in assistive technology know how great robots and different things like that can be. Think of the manual wheelchair versus the power wheelchair. While not a robot, think of the differences in those two things. And we’ve had folks on the show to talk about different robotic kind of feeding devices, robotic arms for controlling and moving things, all kinds of stuff.

Josh Anderson:
But again, I really liked the part where they talk about it as a support and not a replacement because really when it comes to robots and assistive technology, that’s where it all kind of fits in is as a support. So I don’t know if this is something we’re going to see a lot more of. I do know here in the United States we’re definitely on a huge, huge shortage of workers. Some of that’s due to the pandemic. A lot of it was already there beforehand and it was just exposed a whole lot more. So we could end up seeing maybe robots doing the work of the fast food restaurant, robots maybe bringing you your food when you sit down at a restaurant, perhaps checking you out at a department store and other thing where they’re really just kind of hurting for workers these days.

Josh Anderson:
But apparently according to this story, do not be surprised if sometime when you’re in a hospital, especially if you’re in Singapore, if your medications, your linens, your food, and perhaps even some of your nursing duties are soon to be carried out by a robot. We’ll put a link to this story over in our show notes.

Josh Anderson:
Our next story actually comes to us from Railway technology. It’s written by Frankie Yode and it’s titled, Assisting Deaf Passengers with Train Travel: Introducing AI sign language. Other than the fitting stories, we’re going to talk about translation and artificial intelligence here with the interview here in a few moments, but this basically talks about rail yards over in Amsterdam. And it talks about most of the information, about delays. Other information is all relayed over a PA system. So when these come up, if I am an individual who is deaf and perhaps use sign language to communicate, I’m not going to hear those. So I might have to go try to find a communication board and hope that that information is updated on there as well, which isn’t always possible, feasible or definitely convenient. So what they’re trying to do is create artificial intelligence that can translate this spoken language into a sign language.

Josh Anderson:
Basically, making sure that the sentences are simple to understand, are easy so that the artificial intelligence can understand them well enough in order to make the avatar sign this information to individuals. Since the research and development of this is part of a project at SignLab Amsterdam, which is a cross facility research lab at the University of Amsterdam. So they want to also further development of this technology to support parents of deaf children, assist in airport environments and much more. They’re making great headway in the development and they do not want to replace sign language interpreters, but to aid and assist deaf individuals for situations are not feasible for human interpreter to be present. It says that, while this thing is still in the prototype stage, they have actually been using this before they kind of moved it onto the rail industry and they were testing it with healthcare professionals and patients.

Josh Anderson:
So during kind of COVID-19, which I guess is still going on. So during this time, in some COVID 19 isolation wards of an individual use sign language to communicate, well, the interpreter could not be there. And sometimes it wasn’t always feasible to do it over video chat or other ways, so they kind of tested this there with some pretty good results. Kind of sticking again with the simple sentences, where are you feeling pain? What hurts? Tell me this, tell me that. Some little information like that, so places where an interpreter couldn’t be. So this could really be a pretty cool thing, especially because so many times we think, well, if an individual’s deaf, you just put something in writing. Well, writing is not their first language. Their first language is sign language. So if we can interpret that into sign language, that can be a giant help.

Josh Anderson:
Interpreters are always the best way to go, but whenever we’re out and about and doing our shopping going about our day, go into the rail yard or the airport, the hospital, we don’t always have the chance to get that interpreter with us. So this artificial intelligence that could eventually become an avatar could be a great help, especially if that could be interpreted into an app, into a computer, into a program or into something that folks could use on the go, on the run or just as needed. So we’ll put a link to this over in the show notes and we’ll try and keep an eye on it and hopefully hear more about this becoming successful in the future.

Josh Anderson:
Whether for meetings, court, class, kind of many other users, transcription is a great accommodation that may have become even more useful over the last year and a half. Well, our guest today is Dr. Misty Cobb, and she’s here to tell us all about Verbit and their solution to your transcription needs. Dr. Cobb, welcome to the show.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
Thanks so much for having me.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. I’m really excited to get into talking about this, but could you start off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself and your background?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
I’d be glad to, thank you. So, as I said, and you’ve introduced me, my name is Dr. Misty Cobb. I have spent somehow the past 20 years in the education space. And so I started very early off working in an IT department at a local school system. Having moved in into the classroom teaching computer science and business courses for a number of years in two different school districts here in the state of Alabama where I resigned, I then had an opportunity to move into higher education as an instructional designer, and then was promoted to a director of distance learning at a local university, and then found myself working for Blackboard. So I was a client of theirs for a number of years, moved over and ended up serving them for 10 years in capacities that ranged from solutions engineering to product management. It was a sheer pleasure and delight to have worked with great people at Blackboard, and then so many clients in the United States, but across the globe.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
And then that begot another opportunity to join Verbit. And so I’ve been with the Verbit now for over a year in the role of senior customer success manager, working with strategic clients across the United States.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. That’s a very, very good background. And I know I’ve used Blackboard many times with many individuals, so thank you for all you do with that. And I can only imagine working IT at a school would have its very unique challenges, having to work with some different folks before. So, we’re very happy to have you on today and what exactly is Verbit?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
So, Verbit is the world’s leading AI powered transcription and captioning platform. We provide accurate word for word transcripts and captions to diverse customers in education, legal media and enterprise sectors and beyond. Our transcription and captioning platform leverages a unique hybrid model of AI, so this is machine learning and natural language processing, and a network of more than 30,000 professional transcribers to achieve our 99% accuracy standard and a turnaround time that is 10 times faster than the industry standard.

Josh Anderson:
Wow. When was Verbit started?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
2017 is the year that Verbit was founded.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And why was Verbit started? I know there’s some other kind of services that may do some of the same things. Why did Verbit see it important to enter that market?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
So, our CEO was, once upon a time, a lawyer, and as many times we have experiences in our work that will result in varying types of frustration, but so many good things can come out of that. And for Tom, he was really wrestling with the low quality of transcriptions that he received while doing his work as an attorney. He was spending a lot of time and money in transcribing depositions and thought that surely technology would be able to provide a much more effective and efficient process for this. And so while he was looking for a solution for the legal space he realized that the sector needed transcriptions not to have so much manual labor. Again, the process was inefficient, it was costly, it was time consuming. And so this observation prompted him to enter, not only the legal market, but also education corporate and then recently media.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And I was just about to ask you what kind of industries this might be useful in but you already kind of answered that one for me. Misty, whom all could this assist? I mean, as you know, our show is kind of about assistive technology and disability, but I figured Verbit definitely has some definite ADA kind of consideration, so whom all could Verbit assist?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
Absolutely. It’s a perfect question. So our service is truly catered to the needs of individuals with varying abilities. We do abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act and its regulations. We have reliable speech-to-text tools that enable real-time captioning and transcription for education, of course that’s where my focus is, but I’m thinking about lectures and classroom discussions and really enabling all learners to participate. And our hope, and what research shows us, is that this can increase information retention by as much as 80%. So truly all individuals, not just those with a learning disability or hearing or vision loss or some other kind of hearing impairment, but truly everyone is better able to engage with the course or with the materials that may be discussed in an online meeting. And this helps them to succeed both academically, but also professionally.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And you brought up a good thing with kind of online meetings. How has the pandemic kind of changed the need for your services?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
So, we have seen, I would say something that is very much in alignment with what we’re seeing in all kinds of markets, as far as different kinds of services that may be needed. So initially and interestingly enough, I joined the company in the middle of this pandemic in 2020. So all I have known is Verbit kind of operating in the pandemic, but I can tell you that my experience has been looking backwards as I was beginning to get clients with whom I would be able to work, that it really increased usage, partly because we were still trying to figure out what we would do as educators and as educational service providers to students across the United States. And frankly, Joshua, it was a difficult challenge, not only for what we would traditionally define as a student, even if they might be a post-traditional learner, but also how do we support staff?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
How do we support our faculty when they too are also working from home and trying to figure out and define a way to continue doing the work of providing education while the pandemic is creating such ongoing uncertainty. And frankly, we still see that today. We plan… I’ve found that my customers are planning to do the next best thing based on what we know, but we continue to find the need that we must be nimble and flexible as our plans change and as we respond to the reality around us.

Josh Anderson:
Oh definitely. And I know here is something we run into a lot are kind of privacy consideration. So, we’re kind of bound by HIPAA. I know schools have FERPA and all the other different kind of acronyms, are your services compliant with different privacy rules?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
In deed, they are.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. Because I know that’s an issue sometimes. Sometimes things are sent to the cloud, we don’t really know where they go. So I know at least Wade who used to host this as our security officer so he would probably come down and yell at me if I did not ask such a question.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
Of course. It is an important question. And of course we provide to our clients and prospective clients, all of the documentation so that they can be certain that we are very mindful of HIPAA and other kinds of regulations.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And I think you’ve kind of touched on this, but I really want to kind of drive it home. What sets you apart from kind of other transcription services?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
Accuracy is key. Technology only in transcription and captioning platforms tend to only be 75 to 80% accurate, and truthfully that’s just not near enough to what is needed for most professional transcription use cases. So Verbit continues to harness the power of the artificial intelligence that I mentioned earlier, but also the human intelligence. And that combination really does allow us to reach that 99% accuracy level.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
And again, the turnaround time. It’s not enough to just be accurate, but you need to be fast because we want to make sure, particularly in education, that we’re providing an equal learning opportunity. And that doesn’t work if I have a lecture today and I can’t receive live captions at the same time that my peers are receiving the content that’s delivered or if I have to wait three days for a video that might be posted in the LMS. By the time I would receive those captions, new content has been released in most cases. And so if you’re not timely, the student is always operating from a deficit and that’s just not… It’s not up to snuff, so to speak. We want our students who use these services to have timely access and accurate captions from the get-go.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. Definitely. Along those lines, can you tell me a story about someone that’s been assisted by Verbit?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
I’d love to. So I was meeting with a client the other day and for the most part, many of our clients do sort of fit that traditional mold of, you have someone who has some kind of hearing loss and can benefit from the captions. But when I was speaking with this particular client, she was telling me a story about one of the students that she serves who’s coming back to school very much a post-traditional kind of student. And she was telling me that the student has some mobility impairments, and that the student felt compelled to try education once again, having been exposed to similar kinds of technology. And because the student has mobile impairments, note taking can be difficult or so much of the mental emphasis is placed on note taking while participating in an in-person class or in a Zoom session or whatever it may be.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
And so the technology can relieve that obligation and allow the student to squarely focus on and participate in the discussion rather than having a divided mind that is focused on furiously and copiously taking notes so that you can have that content to study after the class is over. So that really relieves the student of the concern of having to take notes because they have a verbatim transcript of the meeting. And so that’s very compelling to me.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And I’m glad you brought that up because that’s something that I know we’ve dealt with a lot here, is in talking to folks about accommodations. It seems like transcription only comes up when people think of hearing. And really with note-taking that’s… I mean, I’m not going to lie here. None of us are probably that great of note takers, but yeah, if you’re feverously trying to get every bit of information you can down, you’re not paying attention, you’re not getting that information. You’re not retaining anything. So having something that can help can really help folks, like you said, with mobility challenges, with different learning disabilities with really… It could probably help us all really, if we look at it.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
Absolutely.

Josh Anderson:
Let me see, what does the future hold for Verbit?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
So it’s very exciting times. We are preparing for an IPO in 2022 and we fully expect that this will continue to propel us forward in our significant growth journey. So we’re really excited about what the future holds.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. I always love to hear that. How can our listeners find out more if they want to learn about Verbit and maybe even try it out?

Dr. Misty Cobb:
We’d be delighted for listeners to head on over to Verbit.ai to learn more, take a spin through the website and reach out to us. We would love to provide a demonstration and to share more information based on whatever industry or need you might have.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. Well, Dr. Misty Cobb, thank you so much for coming on the show today and telling us all about Verbit and the great things it can do to help folks out.

Dr. Misty Cobb:
It’s been my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on an Assistive Technology Update? If so, call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation or InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC at relayindiana.com. A special thanks to Nicole Prietto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.