YouTube introduces captioned videos

5 Mar 2010

Video sharing site YouTube is introducing closed captions with many videos, including speeches by US President Barack Obama already featuring this option.

Auto-captioning will be introduced

As well as having text captions running along the bottom of the video, YouTube has been working on auto-captioning using speech-to-text algorithms that are found in Google’s Voice Search and this technology will automatically generate video captions on the user’s request.

If you are the copyright owner of a video and have uploaded it yourself there is also an option to download this generated text, tweak its accuracy and re-upload it.

In beta right now is the Translate Captions option and this works for 50 different languages.

The closed captions feature is a small button on the bottom of the video that users can toggle on and off while watching and the text itself can be changed in style and size.

YouTube says it is catering for users with hearing impairments

YouTube says that one of the chief reasons behind introducing the new feature was for accessibility and to cater for the number of internet users with hearing impairments.

“Tens of millions of people in the US experience some kind of hearing impairment and recent studies have predicted that over 700 million people worldwide will suffer from hearing impairment by 2015,” said Hiroto Tokusei, product manager for YouTube.

“To address a clear need, the broadcast industry began running captions on regular video programming in the early 1970s. Today, closed captions on video are more prevalent than ever. But generating captions today can be a time-consuming and complicated process.”

Tokusei added that this was mainly for newly uploaded video but that YouTube is working on getting it working on existing footage though it only applies to clearly spoken tracks with no muffled voices or background noise.

By Marie Boran