20 January 2010 ~ Comments

Closed-Captioning on YouTube

There has been much public outcry about the need to offer and even require closed-captions to internet videos, just like on television.  And truly, there is a need in this area.  But unlike television broadcasts, which are largely paid for by corporations and large advertising budgets, most of the videos on the internet are submitted by countless numbers of amateurs with no budget at all.  YouTube is the largest internet video site, with over six billion videos viewed in January 2009 and an estimated 20 hours of new video content uploaded to the site every minute.  And every bit of this content is uploaded by individual subscribers.

So amid the outcry for captioning on the internet, the world’s leader in online videos decided to do something about it.  In November 2009, YouTube unveiled new technology that will automatically add closed-captions to videos.  Currently, this service is limited to educational and Google videos. However, expectations are that it will soon be offered to many more videos and eventually to everyone.

Another feature that was introduced is the ability for the user to automatically time text to their YouTube video.  All the user has to do is upload the text with the video and the voice-recognition software completes all the timing.

Google, Inc. has also introduced CaptionTube [link], which allows users to create and add timed captions to their YouTube videos completely free of charge.

Google admits that the automated captions will have errors. This should be expected because of many factors, including audio quality and the speaker’s accent or varied pronunciation of words.  But even with these errors, this still is a powerful breakthrough for internet videos.

The benefits to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community are almost as endless as the number of videos on YouTube.  Although no computer voice recognition software, no matter how advanced, can work better than an actual human transcriber, this innovative technology accomplishes a great leap forward in the way we watch videos on the internet.

More Information from Google.

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