23 May 2012 ~ Comments

YouTube Introduces New Caption Features

Recent YouTube improvements have made watching online videos with captions better than ever.  Since YouTube’s introduction of caption support in 2006, the social media site has been a trendsetter for online accessibility.  Using voice recognition technology, videos could be auto-captioned or the owner could provide a verbatim transcript and YouTube would automatically synchronize text and the spoken word.  A special caption file (.SRT) could also be used to manually add a synchronized caption script.

In March 2012, new FCC rules were published in the Federal Register, making captioning required for broadcast programs distributed over the Internet.  The law mandates that the Internet captions must be of the same quality as the televised captions.  This includes moveable placement of the captions to identify speakers and to avoid covering faces or graphics, a feature not previously supported by YouTube. In addition, the FCC has challenged program owners and distributors to support other advanced features such as user-selectable font sizes, colors and backgrounds for captions.

Because the new regulations become effective on September 30, 2012, there is no question that captioning of online videos will soon be upgraded across nearly every Internet video platform.  Once again, YouTube has risen to the challenge by introducing new captioning features that set the standard for accessibility of online videos.

Here’s a preview of the new features.

Display Settings: The user can now change the way captions display on the video.  By simply clicking on the “CC” icon and then the “Settings” menu item, the font size and colors used can be configured.

Placement: Instead of displaying captions only at the bottom of the video, YouTube now supports caption placement.  Just like watching captions on TV, captions are no longer fixed and can move across the screen to indicate who is speaking and to avoid covering faces or graphics.

Languages:  Automatic captions have been expanded to include Japanese, Korean, and English.  Plus, video owners can create and add captions in 155 supported languages and dialects.

Search Options:  Users searching YouTube for a particular quote can simply add “, CC” to the search, or filter after searching by clicking Filter > CC.

Broadcast Captions: Video owners now have more options when adding captions to their videos.  Broadcast caption formats such as .SCC, .CAP, EBU-STL, and others are now supported.  In addition, if a video owner uploads a MPEG-2 video that contains closed captions with CEA-608 encoding, the captions are imported automatically with the video.

The new accessibility features of YouTube are setting the pace for other media sites and program distributors.  What other sites would you like to see implement feature-rich captions like these?

Read more about these features on the YouTube Blog.

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