YouTube improving video accessibility with automatic subtitling

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Monday, 10 May 2010

One of the challenges of online video is making it accessible to everyone, from a whole range of perspectives: having the video in a format that a majority of users' web browsers can display; users having an internet connection that's capable of downloading video fast enough; and making the video usable by people who cannot hear the content.

The first few issues have been progressively overcome as broadband has become more common, and as website developers have become able to rely on Flash for playing video (though this will probably be replaced by H.264 in HTML5-capable browsers). Making videos accessible to people who can't hear has been a greater challenge.

The most common solution is to rely on audio transcripts or subtitling (closed captions) so that people who cannot hear speech can still understand what has going on. Unfortunately, getting this right creates a lot of work for content creators. Now, YouTube has enabled the automated captioning of every video uploaded to it, meaning that creators of videos now no longer have to perform this step manually, while every viewer benefits from access to subtitles.

Of course there are some errors in automated captioning, but with the majority of the legwork already complete, these errors are relatively simple for video creators to correct.

This is a great example of a large, content-heavy site producing innovative responses to accessibility challenges, and we look forward to seeing more.

For more information, read the original article by YouTube (opens in new window).

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