European languages added to YouTube’s auto-captioning

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Friday, 30 November 2012 13:14pm

YouTube has this week announced automatic captions will now be available in another six languages across the video sharing network. YouTube has added its auto-captioning tool for videos in German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch. The feature is already available in English, Japanese, Spanish and Korean.

While this is good news, YouTube’s automatic captions are notoriously inaccurate. They rely on Google’s voice recognition technology which is unreliable, particularly when there is background noise, music or unusual accents.

YouTube states in its blog that automatic captions can be used as a starting point, rather than a one-click method of providing access. Once the captions have been created, video owners can edit and correct them, a feature added in August.

Chris Mikul, our television project manager agrees auto captioning is not a total solution but a starting point.

“Auto captioning is still in very early stages and is certainly not a suitable form of access for public information or commercial videos. 

"For do-it-yourself captioners, the best thing is that it helps with the accurate timing and placement of the captions in the video.”

To turn on closed captions on a YouTube video press play, click on 'Turn captions on' in the bottom right and then select the language option. You can also filter YouTube search results to only include captioned videos. To do this, enter a search term in the search bar at the top left of the YouTube website. When the search results appear, click on 'Filter' underneath the search bar and select 'closed captions' from the fourth column.

Further detailed instructions for overcoming YouTube’s accessibility barriers are available in our social media section.

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