An Unexpected Gain
One major gain with spf.io is that you not only offer translation into other languages, but you also get captioning for the spoken language. This is a step toward accessibility that is helpful for not only the hard-of-hearing, but everyone.
For example, there was a Q&A at one point in the conference but audience members were not speaking into microphones. In a large sanctuary, it was extremely difficult for the entire audience to hear and understand what was being said. Since we were monitoring spf.io in the A/V booth, we were able to jump in and manually type what we heard and displayed the captions on the screen. After the conference, multiple attendees told us how they appreciated the captions since they weren’t able to hear what was being spoken.
Providing captions enabled attendees to get even more out of the conference than they would have otherwise. It enabled everyone to be a part of the discussion–those who suffer from hearing loss, those who missed what was said, and those who were on the opposite side of the sanctuary.
The Biggest Win
We started our company with the belief that God’s kingdom includes people from every language. While it may not have been practical to serve many languages at once in the past (due to cost or manpower), now it’s possible and easier than ever before to do so. Our prayer was that attendees would experience a foretaste of God’s kingdom through our technology, and it was a privilege to be a part of a conference dedicated to multiethnic worship and seeing God’s kingdom lived out in real life.
During and after the conference, attendees mentioned how much they appreciated the captions and translation being provided. By the end of the day, over 20 percent of the audience had tuned in to spf.io on their own devices throughout the duration of the conference. Where before language was a separator of people, the experience at this conference showed that not only can a multilingual audience be in the room together, but every person can be actively participating in their own language.
“It gave such a living demonstration of how this could go so well and seamlessly so that people could really experience what was being said, sung, in their own language. And yet the whole circumstance can still accommodate people of other languages, or even the dominant language. It felt like a fantastic use of technology.” said Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Now more than ever before, churches and conferences can bring together God’s people. Language doesn’t have to be a barrier any more. And in the end, we can all participate in a foretaste of the kingdom to come (emphasis our own):
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” – Revelation 7:9-10 ESV