YouTube has announced that its automatic livestream captions should now be available for all creators, instead of being limited to channels with more than 1,000 subscribers like they were during the feature’s initial rollout. This change, along with some future improvements the company details in its blog, should help make the platform more accessible to deaf or hard-of-hearing people.
Some of those updates include making live auto captions available to 12 more languages instead of just English (including Japanese, Turkish, and Spanish), the ability to add multiple audio tracks to a video to support multiple languages (and audio descriptions for those with limited eyesight), and the expansion of the auto-translate captions feature to support mobile devices, too. The expanded language support for live and auto-translate captions will be coming within the next few months, and YouTube says multiple audio tracks will be more widely available “in the coming quarters.”
Auto-translate captions and searchable transcripts are also features making their way from desktop to mobile
YouTube also says that it’ll “experiment” with letting users search through video transcripts on mobile devices. For me, this has been an extremely useful feature on desktop — clicking the three dot icon to the right of the like/dislike bar, then hitting “Open transcript” to get a full searchable text of the video has saved me countless hours, so it’s nice to see that it could be coming to mobile as well.
YouTube has yet to release a replacement for community captions
Finally, YouTube says it’s still working on the Subtitle Editor permission, and that it’ll provide updates on its progress “in the coming months.” The feature, which will let creators designate other people to add subtitles to their videos, was meant to replace the community captions feature that YouTube removed. Without being able to rely on volunteers for captions and translations, creators who wanted to make their videos more accessible have had to scramble to create their own systems.