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TikTok will now let viewers turn on closed captions even if a creator doesn’t

Also coming soon: auto-translation for select languages

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok is making it easier for users to watch videos with auto-generated captions, the company announced today, updating a feature it introduced in 2021 that had a number of shortcomings.

The previous caption feature required creators to enable auto-generated captions on their video before posting, meaning the availability of captions depended on whether the video creator remembered to click a button. If a creator forgot to enable captions, there was no way to add them after publishing the post without deleting and starting over, and deaf and hard-of-hearing users regularly had to ask others to turn on closed captions. This new update adds the ability for viewers to turn on closed captions in addition to creators.

@mikaelachavezt

Closed captions can be helpful for SO many reasons, including providing clarification and accessibility!! #deafnurse #accessibility #closedcaptions #TheAdamProject

♬ Wonder - Shawn Mendes

TikTok is also introducing a translation tool, allowing viewers to translate video captions, descriptions, and text stickers to their preferred language. Previously, if a video in another language popped up, users had to use outside translation tools to piece together the contents of the clip.

“Through these efforts, global content will become more accessible regardless of the language(s) you speak and where you are in the world,” the company writes in a blog post.

Auto-captions and translations will be available initially in English, Portuguese, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, and Turkish. TikTok says the features will be expanded to more users “in the coming months.”