Captioning

Display boards at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City allow fans to follow along with public address announcements and audio from features playing on the large video screen.

Chris Vleisides, Courtesy Kansas City Royals

Minutes after it was announced Tuesday afternoon, @HuskerCaption had already gained a few dozen followers on Twitter.

Thousands more will follow when the pilot program for deaf and hard of hearing fans and anyone with access to the social media site goes live when the Huskers take on Arkansas State on Sept. 2.

Three "game-knowledgeable" transcribers will be at each game to turn the announcements from the sound system after each play into real-time information, the university said.

In addition to play-by-play calls, @HuskerCaption will also transcribe scoring, player information, referee announcements, promotions and emergency messages for followers.

The unique service "allows fans to be able to read captioning on mobile devices anywhere in and around Memorial Stadium," according to Christy Horn, the university's coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Fans without access to Twitter on their devices can check out iPads to use at Guest Services locations in the stadium.

John Wyvill, the executive director of the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said in July the commission hoped the Nebraska athletic department would follow the lead of other stadiums around the country in putting captioning on a designated digital display in the stadium.

Wyvill and others met with the university this summer to discuss what a captioning system could look like at Memorial Stadium, and how to best implement a program that worked for "every fan regardless of where their seats were located."

"This allows the fan to keep the device and play in their line of sight instead of turning away from the field to view the caption on another screen," the university said in a statement. "Additionally, Twitter was chosen over other applications because the Twitter feed remains available to view after the play."

On Tuesday, Wyvill said he was encouraged by the pilot program and the university's willingness to break down a communication barrier faced by an estimated 20 percent of the population.

"We're optimistic they're offering a viable solution," he said.

Athletics officials and Horn will review fan input after the season to decide whether to continue with @HuskerCaption in the future.

Wyvill said while he's "not part of the Twitter generation," he's willing to give the pilot program a shot.

"I am all about trying new things that use technology to break down communications barriers," he said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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