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SDAC: Otter Voice Notes

Otter Voice Notes (Otter) is a tool that converts voice conversations into smart notes by recording the audio and using artificial intelligence to provide machine-generated transcription. These transcriptions/notes can be edited, shared, and easily searched.

Requesting a License

Otter for Education licenses are being offered to the University community at no charge. Compared to the free version of Otter, these licenses offer expanded features such as integrations with Zoom, more recording minutes, and other collaboration tools. A license can be requested through the Learning Tech software catalog in the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Once you activate your Otter for Education account, you will use these same credentials to login into the Otter.ai site when using a computer or through a mobile app. The Otter tool is available on the desktop via login at the Otter.ai website as well as through a mobile app for both Apple iOS and Android via Google Play.

Using Otter

In addition to capturing in-person conversations, this tool can work with any online video conferencing tool such as MS Teams, Google Meet, and WebEx to provide a live transcript during an online event as long as the device's speakers and microphone are being used. It can also integrate directly with Zoom and Google Meet to provide live transcription that can be saved to an Otter account, edited for accuracy, and shared among participants. An integration allows headphones to be used during a live event and still provide a live transcript.

Key Benefits

  • Record and transcribe conversations on your smartphone, tablet, or via web browser on your computer. Share conversations and collaborate with your classmates or colleagues.
  • Access controls are in place to limit who can edit, comment on, or only view the conversation. Review and edit conversations to assure the accuracy of the content and indicate who is speaking.
  • The ability to import (upload) audio (mp3, aac, wav, m4a, wma) and video (mp4, avi, mov, wmv, mpg) files with Otter for transcription. Export the text and audio of a conversation in a variety of formats to suit your different needs.

It is easy to create folders based on classes, projects, teams, or anything else to simplify finding files and sharing with others to organize conversations.

Following University Policy

Since Otter records all live audio and provides a speech-to-text transcript of a conversation, either in-person or online, University policies regarding recorded materials must be followed. Especially during the University's response to COVID-19 and in the classroom setting, instructors are strongly encouraged to allow recording through a syllabi statement. It is also important to alert all participants that recording is taking place at the beginning of the event.

Recipients of accommodations are not required to receive permission to record an event; however, they are bound by University policy regarding the recording's use and distribution.

The transcripts generated by Otter use proprietary software in combination with artificial intelligence (AI), commonly referred to as machine-generated transcription or automatic speech recognition (ASR). While the accuracy of machine-generated captions and transcripts is increasing, they are currently not suitable for disability-related accommodations. In such cases, professional services utilizing human intervention are required. Students seeking captioning/transcription as an accommodation should reach out to the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) for more information. Faculty/Staff seeking these types of accommodations should follow the Procedures for Employees with Disabilities to Request Workplace Accommodations.

More Information

For more information, email the Coordinator of Academic Accessibility or email captioning@virginia.edu.