For many months I have been looking for an accurate and affordable AI-powered cloud-based platform that could transcribe audio interviews and allow me to edit the transcription. I finally found that service in Otter.ai, a free voice recording app that offers automatic transcription. More specifically, according to their “About Us” page, “Otter.ai creates technologies and products that make information from important voice conversations instantly accessible and actionable.”
How does it work? As explained by Otter.ai:
Otter turns your voice conversations into smart notes that you can easily search and share. You can use it to take notes at your meetings and interviews, capture your thoughts and ideas while you’re driving in the car, and transcribe your existing recordings and podcasts. You can even snap photos (e.g. of a whiteboard, or a speaker or presentation slide at an event) during a recording and they will be inserted inline with your transcripts. The possibilities are endless.
If you’re in need of the same services I can’t recommend this enough. The interface is intuitive and user friendly: it gives you the option to organize your interviews into folders and to create groups into which you can invite others to access your projects. You can even connect it to your Calendar and Contacts in Google or Microsoft and link it to your Dropbox and Zoom accounts!
“Disability is in fact the inability to make progress and achievements. The achievements that people of determination have made in various spheres over the past years are proof that determination and strong will can do the impossible and encourage people to counter challenges and difficult circumstances while firmly achieving their goals.”
On Sunday, October 6, 2019 I engaged my tolerance and diversity students at the American University in the Emirates (AUE) in an exercise about disability. In the exercise, which was designed to simulate communication and confusion within an organization, there are typically three roles (I added a fourth to facilitate the exercise in my classroom):
The CEO (who can see, but not talk).
The Manager (who can talk, but cannot see).
The Employee (who is blindfolded).
The Goalie (who holds an object that will be retrieved or interacted with; in this case, it was a service bell you would find on a desk).
The participants are situated as follows:
The CEO is facing the manager and the employee (who is placed at some point behind the manager).
The manager is directly in front of the CEO, facing him or her with their back to the employee.
The employee is behind the manager, blindfolded, but able to move freely in response to instructions from the manager to find it.
The Goalie is positioned somewhere in the room; either in a fixed location or is instructed to move at will.
Ideally, the CEO and the manager will develop a way to communicate with each other; the manager also needs to think about how to translate the CEO’s nonverbal communication to the employee. This gets especially confusing when the issue of who’s left or right comes into play. The employee is blindfolded and must listen to the voice of the manager to know where and how to move.
In my tolerance and diversity class, we conducted the exercise twice with two different sets of students (who volunteered and agreed to allow themselves to be video recorded). Both versions are included in this video, one after the other. For the first group the Goalie did not move and remained in the same position; for the second group I instructed the Goalie to move evasively as the Employee got closer to her — thus creating further confusion and frustration.
Following the exercise, we discussed what the experience was like for those who participated (and later, for those in the class who were observing). We then bridged that exercise into a conversation about individuals with disabilities in the workplace or at our university. Students shared their experiences either as an individual with a disability or their interactions with people of determination in their personal or professional lives.
On Tuesday, September 24, 2019 I gave the first public presentation of my Dr. Seuss style poem “The Ball and The Wall: A Tale of Tolerance,” to my Tolerance and Diversity class at the American University in the Emirates (AUE).
The poem shares the story of a grandfather who, while fishing with his grandson, uses an unexpected encounter to tackle a teachable moment concerning compassion for others in addition to accepting people with different perspectives. In invite you to watch a slightly edited version below (via YouTube) of the original Facebook Live video I broadcast while performing the poem; you can watch the original recording here.
Encouraging us to accept that people have different perspectives, she explained how one side saw that the ball was red and the other side of the class saw that the ball was blue. Moving forward she asked us to accept that a perception that was not the same as our wasn’t necessarily better or worse, but that it was just different, and that was perfectly acceptable.
That last lesson stuck with me and marinated in my mind until 2003 when I wrote the first draft of what would become “The Ball and The Wall.” It has undergone edits and updates since, and will likely continue to be refined, but overall the intent and the idea are intact. It is my plan to publish this as an illustrated children’s book — for adults.
I hope you enjoy this spoken word performance and welcome any ideas it might inspire!