Zoom Makes ASR Captioning Free for People with Hearing Loss

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Success! Zoom has heard our community’s voice!

Zoom just announced it will provide its high-quality ASR captions (Live Transcript) FREE for people with hearing loss, as well as other groups who require this feature for accessibility reasons. Click here to request access. This feature will be rolled out to all free accounts by Fall 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have been asking Zoom to do just this. We explained that captions are our ramps and that we should not be forced to pay for the accessibility feature that we need to communicate well on Zoom. They have heeded our call.

Advocacy works!

Thank you to NPR (NPR interview) and the Washington Post (op-ed) for helping to highlight this issue. Our petition Provide Free Captions for People with Hearing Loss on Video Conferencing Platforms garnered 80,000 signatures. I am so proud of the way our hearing loss community has come together to advocate for our needs.

Read Zoom’s Update on Live Transcription for Free Accounts for more details. The link for early access for people with hearing loss is here.

Thank you Zoom for recognizing the needs of people with hearing loss and for taking steps to make your platform more accessible at no additional cost.

What’s Next?

This update will provide captions for calls that we initiate, but an equally challenging problem for people with hearing loss is the lack of captions on Zoom calls and webinars that we do not host. Currently, it is a convoluted process. You must request that the host turn on Live Transcript. Often this requires that someone in the IT department of the company/school/non-profit enable the Live Transcript setting in the organization’s main Zoom account. In a large company or university, it can be difficult to determine who that might be, even for those within the organization. In my experience, the meeting host often gives up in frustration, leaving us without the captions we need.

I have made Zoom aware of this issue and they are considering enabling Live Transcript to default to ON for all video calls, so the captions are always available to us if we need them. All we would need to do is turn them on from our screen — empowering us to control our accessibility, rather than relying on someone else to provide it. The timing for this is unclear.

There is still much work to do on making all video communications across all platforms, formats and delivery methods more accessible for people with hearing loss. But here, we have taken an important first step. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who raised their voice to advocate for our needs.

Readers, will you sign up for free ASR captions on your Zoom account?

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68 thoughts on “Zoom Makes ASR Captioning Free for People with Hearing Loss

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your support.

  1. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Again, kudos to you, Shari for spearheading this success. Just to clarify, with this new access, the captioning will be automatic as opposed to requiring someone to live transcribe?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Yes, ASR captioning like they have on paid accounts.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your support!

  2. I find it hard to give any kudos to Zoom for too little, too late. They have been “working on this” since May, and now they say they can figure out how to do it by fall. Until then the hosts can provide captions, but that still leaves most people with hearing loss without them. I’ll admit to not understanding the technology, but GoogleMeet has had no trouble providing them for many months. Zoom warns that they will be inundated with requests from hosts. I would think it would be simpler to just put it on all their accounts rather than do it piecemeal, since they are now able to do it.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      People with hearing loss can get more immediate access to this feature at this link. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSccQQ2W-K8naaltkBIbuv6BfJvisy0NZS2qWIKd0gSMUWGGpQ/viewform

  3. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    I like Google Meet a lot but not everyone has a gmail account and most people and places use Zoom.

  4. Great work Shari! Can’t wait for them to enable it on all accounts as it is very difficult to request and instruct each Webinar and meeting host to enable it. Thanks for continuing to pressure Zoom to be accessible to those with hearing loss.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Hopefully soon. I have spoken to their chief product officer about it. Thanks for your comment.

  5. While I agree that we should all continue to use Google Meet, the reality is that Zoom is now the standard platform for many meetings, and it is an important step forward for them to have agreed to provide captioning, albeit belatedly.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It’s great to have options. All platforms should be accessible. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for your support.

  6. I was in my third court hearing in the last 8 months today. I have asked for captions repeatedly. I always get told that they don’t know how to do it. I even told them there are vids on youtube a minute long that will teach them. In the second one, they were so disingenuous that they said no one ever asked for that before. Yeah right I am the first hearing impaired person in Zoom court. I was alone against the lawyers and witnesses as I could not come up with the money to hire a lawyer and the pro bono services turned me down. That made it worse as a hoh person. I was terrified about the chance they could make me homeless and it would have been a death sentence as I could never live like that. It is bad enough that they have made me broke for the first time in my adult life. Today, I taught them that zoom is not the only game in town. There is Glip, Live Lab, Facebook, Meetup, Skype, Google meet and more for free. The google one includes captions.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good for you. Thank you for your advocacy!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for your comment.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It is a great example of grass roots advocacy. Thanks to all for supporting this effort.

  7. That’s really good news, oddly I just attend a zoom meeting this morning with the closed captioning switched on and it worked really well (better than teams). I will definitely sign up to this. Thank you very much for pushing on this. You’re a hearing loss super hero .

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad it worked well for you! Thanks for your comment.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your support of this initiative!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Yes. You would have the captions on meetings that you host. I have discussed the issue of making captions available for all meetings — host or not — with them and that is something they are working on but the timeline is not clear. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Excellent! Thanks for spreading the word!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your support!

  8. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    I hope they understand that having ASR accessed only by hosts is good but half the battle. Most people aren’t initiating Zoom meetings and simply want to join an existing one. Hopefully, they’ll complete this accessibility. Thanks again!!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Absolutely. I have made them aware of this issue and I believe they are working on it. Baby steps.

  9. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Excellent, thanks!!

  10. Thank you for your hard work on this Shari. I am confused by the ASR captions through Zoom. I have a licensed Zoom account but have to pay for a 3rd party to do provide the captions still. There is nothing free through Zoom, so is that changing? When I went through the steps on the link, it sent me to the Zoom video explaining how to assign a captioner since my account already had access. So my understanding is Zoom is just allowing access to the CC features for everyone but not providing captions. Am I not understanding this correctly?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      If you have a paid Zoom account you will need to go into your main settings under Meeting Advanced to enable the ASR captions. Then they should be available to turn on in the meetings you host. If your account is part of a larger institution, they will need to turn it on at the main account level. I hope that helps.

  11. Thank you. Here is something interesting; I tried to enable the settings and they were not there. I requested assistance from customer support and the response was “the feature has not been yet enabled on your account” and I had to request the feature enablement. I know am waiting for a response from Zoom. Just sharing as I am sure others will be trying this. I was following the steps on the Zoom guide and didn’t have the option, as the guide said. Very frustrating, as this whole year has been dealing with Zoom and captions.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:
  12. Thanks Shari for all you do to get Zoom to activate Captions for hard of hearing/deaf people!! It has been hard. I was with family on Zoom at Christmas time and had a hard time. I noticed the caption availability wont be until the Fall of 2021? Thats too far away. We wont have the ability to turn it on until then?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:
  13. Juliette Sterkens, AuD @LoopWisconsin – I am a retired audiologist on an encore career to advocate for hearing loop technology in public places and houses of worship. Hearing Loops are for hearing aid users what ramps are for those in wheelchairs. See www.loopwisconsin.com for information for consumers, audiologists and hearing care providers.
    Juliette Sterkens, AuD @LoopWisconsin says:

    Hey Shari, Kudos for making this happen. It has been a long time coming. I had applied earlier and never heard back. Today I applied via the link shown above. Hopefully the captions feature will appear on my account soon! Regards, Juliette

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is great! Please let me know once you get them. Thank you for the update.

  14. bluereadergal – This blog will be about books. Who does not like books? I have always loved books. Reading allows you to travel to whole new worlds. Everyone should read. I will cover whatever books captures my attention and share it with the world. Books, stories, and libraries are amazing!
    bluereadergal says:

    Yes!!!

  15. A little late here, but thank you for spearheading this effort. Your advocacy has paved the way to better hearing for millions of people! Lita

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for your kind words.

  16. Hi Shari,

    Thank you again for your tireless efforts to campaign for Zoom to provide free captions for everyone.

    I’d like to know would the meeting host need to enable captions in their account setting prior to each time they host a meeting, or does CC stay on for future meetings once Captions has been enabled in account setting? Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    Elize Lew

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I believe the main account owner needs to turn them on in the main account only once, but they need to be turned on at the start of each meeting by the meeting host. Hope that helps.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Absolutely! Thanks for your comment.

  17. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Shari, just now got notice from Zoom that I am now able to access captioning on my account (as long as I am the host–for now until that’s fixed). Can’t tell you how thrilled I am! Thanks again!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Wonderful news! Thanks for letting me know.

  18. My friend tried to get the free captions, but got a message saying that captions are only available for educational accounts. is this true?
    If not, then can. you please post directions for how to access the captions? thanks so much

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That was true, but not anymore. Your friend needs to fill out the form to request early access. The link is in the post. Turnaround time is usually 1-2 weeks. Thank you!

  19. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Shari, last night I had a situation with Zoom where after the main session, the host put people in breakout rooms. The InnoCaption captioning I was using did not follow me into the room I was in and only reflected some other conversation. InnoCaption says they aren’t sure how Zoom transfers calls dialed in from a phone into breakout rooms. Do you have any insight on this issue? I have no idea what to do and obviously cannot join these breakouts.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I know that Zoom ASR captions do not yet work in breakout rooms, but am not sure how it would work with InnoCaption. One idea would be to use Otter or another speech-to-text app on your phone when you are in the breakouts, but obviously, that is not ideal. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Please let me know if you learn any other workarounds.

  20. InnoCaptions, and other captioning, remains in the main room, and doesn’t go to the breakout room. The way I’ve been handling that is to ask that the people who want captions remain in the main room. So far it’s been working well, and will as long s the number of people wanting captions is enough for a breakout room discussion.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Great idea. Thanks for sharing this!

  21. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Ah, got it. Hadn’t known that. I will for next time. Thanks.

  22. Susan Berger – Blogging is one big experiment for me. Will it work? Who knows. I'll link websites that have published my essays and maybe I'll write original posts. My topics will be observations, points of view and life as I see it. I'm still marinating...
    Susan Berger says:

    Thanks! Many hurdles!

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