In a bid to make videos more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, YouTube has announced it will be introducing automatic captions on videos. In recent years, generating captions have become a regular part of video programming whilst being largely absent in online environments probably due to its complicated and time-consuming demands. In November 2008, however, YouTube trialled auto-captioning for a small group of partners such as the University of California, Berkeley, Yale University and National Geographic and have now decided to make the technology available to all YouTube users.
With an upload rate of up to twenty hours of video per minute, the proposed introduction of auto-captions on all YouTube videos will be a slow and gradual process. Users should, however, note the following important points on how the auto-captions will work.
- Automatic captions will be initially available on English language videos, while other languages will be added in the coming months.
- Videos with background noise or muffled voice cannot be auto-captioned.
- Owners of content have to double check to make sure captions are accurate. It is your responsibility.
Although YouTube, which is owned by Google, is confident that speech technology is now ripe for usage on a large scale, they are also quick to stress that it is not yet perfect. As a result, the system may yet struggle in certain aspects such as accent variation, background noise, language variation and pronunciation. YouTube help centre provides information on how to add or edit captions and how to view videos with captions for interested users.
No doubt about it, this development is a right step in the right direction because it will encourage users who had previously felt excluded from Internet technology to appreciate and enjoy the Web experience in their own way. However, do you agree with the opinion that it may have been introduced too early seeing that “it is not yet a complete solution”?
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