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TikTok adds automatic captions to videos in accessibility push

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Launching in American English and Japanese first

Creators will have the option of editing captions once they’ve been generated.
Image: TikTok

TikTok creators will soon be able to add automatically generated captions to their videos as the app attempts to make itself more accessible. The option to add auto captions will appear in the editing page after a video has been uploaded or recorded. TikTok says the feature will be available in American English and Japanese at first, but it plans to add support for more languages “in the coming months.”

The platform is adding the feature to make TikTok videos easier to watch for deaf and hard of hearing viewers. However, a TikTok dialogue box also says the feature is useful for anyone watching videos “when it’s difficult or inconvenient for them to listen to audio.” Creators can edit their captions after they’ve been automatically generated to fix any mistakes, and viewers can turn captions off via the captions button on the share panel.

As automatic transcription has gotten better over the years, services have increasingly been adding it to their software to make content more accessible. Last month, Google built the feature into Chrome, allowing it to generate captions for audio played through the browser. The company’s Live Caption system is also available as a system-wide feature for select Android devices. Video chat services like Zoom and Google Meet can auto-generate captions during calls, and Instagram also seems to be testing a similar feature for its videos.

TikTok’s auto captions are only its latest accessibility feature. The app also warns creators about videos that might trigger photosensitive epilepsy and provides filters for viewers to avoid these videos. A text-to-speech feature was also added late last year.