A company that provides phone captioning services for the hearing impaired will cut more than 160 Tampa workers this fall as their jobs are replaced by automation.
Captel Service Specialists, a subsidiary of Madison, Wisconsin’s Ultratec Inc., announced in July plans to lay off 104 employees in its Tampa office at 10500 University Center Drive starting Sept. 20. Last week, it informed Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity that it expects to bump that number by about 60.
Of the 164 layoffs announced, 143 are of captioning assistants who listen to telephone conversations and type them as text in real time, similar to television closed captioning. The captioning is for display phones designed for clients with difficulty hearing.
The company said the layoffs were due to “a new technology that provides customers with a choice of receiving captions through a fully automated” captioning system, according to a Sept. 1 letter to the state from Ultratec vice president Jayne Turner.
Tampa isn’t the only city hit with heavy Captel layoffs. After announcing 243 job cuts at its Orlando office in July, the company said this week it would lay off an additional 112 by November. In Wisconsin, Captel announced 274 layoffs this summer, followed by another 89 this week. More than 88% of those laid off are captioning assistants.
In letters to the states of Florida and Wisconsin, Ultratec said it is “working with our employees to ensure a smooth transition” and providing them information about unemployment benefits.