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YouTube announced that it is making auto-captions available for all users, allowing people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing to enjoy millions of videos posted on the website.
Hiroto Tokusei, Product Manager of YouTube said that the YouTube team developed this caption feature in 2008 and launched auto-captioning for a small, select group of partners in November last year.

“Auto-captioning combines some of the speech-to-text algorithms found in Google’s Voice Search to automatically generate video captions when requested by a viewer. The video owner can also download the auto-generated captions, improve them, and upload the new version,” said Tokusei.

Viewers will also have the ability to choose an option to translate those captions into any one of 50 different languages.  There will even be a “request processing” button for un-captioned videos that any video owner can click on if they want to speed up the availability of auto-captions.

The YouTube Team has compiled a couple of tips to make auto-captioning easier.

  • While YouTube plans to broaden the feature to include more languages in the months to come, currently, auto-captioning is only for videos where English is spoken.
  • Just like any speech recognition application, auto-captions require a clearly spoken audio track. Videos with background noise or a muffled voice can’t be auto-captioned. President Obama’s speech on the recent Chilean Earthquake is a good example of the kind of audio that works for auto-captions.
  • Auto-captions aren’t perfect and just like any other transcription, the owner of the video needs to check to make sure they’re accurate. In other cases, the audio file may not be good enough to generate auto-captions. But please be patient — YouTube speech recognition technology gets better every day.   
  • Auto-captions should be available to everyone who’s interested in using them. The YouTube team is also working to provide auto-captions for all past user uploads that fit the above mentioned requirements.

For content owners, the power of auto-captioning is significant. With just a few quick clicks your videos can be accessed by a whole new global audience. And captions can make it easier for users to discover content on YouTube. 

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