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I knew Google Voice would have multiple uses for people who are deaf and hearing impaired, but I didn’t expect this news to come so fast: Google is adding automatic captions to YouTube videos. Google announced the news today on its official Google blog, and while the feature is definitely a work-in-progress, it’s an exciting start to machine-generated video captions. Many people know that Google created a YouTube caption system about a year ago. It required users to upload captions themselves, a time-consuming process, which meant that most videos did not get captioned and were inaccessible to people with hearing impairments. With the new “auto-caps”, Google is combining its automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with the YouTube caption system. Auto-caps use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to automatically generate captions for video. “The captions will not always be perfect, but even when they’re off, they can still be helpful,” ... keep reading »
This just in from Webware: “In a move to make videos easier to understand without volume or for the hard of hearing, YouTube has given users the option of embedding closed captions.” This is great news for the deaf and hard of hearing; YouTube has 34% market share according to ComScore, and I’m betting this figure doesn’t include much of the deaf population. And this might not change if video makers don’t choose to add captions to their videos – I’m guessing not many will, unless they understand the added benefit of captions for those with disabilities, or even non-English speakers. There are a small handful of content providers already including closed captioning in their videos, including CNET, MIT, and the BBC. It would be great if broadcast networks (ABC, Fox, etc.) would do the same. Do we really need more regulations to make this happen? Just do the right thing! Now ... keep reading »