Like everyone else, I have spent a lot of time on the Internet during the pandemic. Whether it’s researching blog posts, streaming YouTube videos or visiting social media sites, I am often frustrated, because the audio and video content I find does not have captions. Because of my hearing loss, this makes it hard for me to follow along.
But lately, captions seem to be catching on!
Advertisers and content creators are beginning to realize the many benefits of captioning, including increased viewership. Social media sites like TikTok are making their platforms more accessible. Even Zoom finally promised to expand its excellent auto-captions to free accounts beginning in the Fall. (If you need access earlier for accessibility reasons, request it here.)
And now captions have come to the Chrome browser.
Google’s Live Caption Brings Auto-Captions to the Chrome Browser
Google recently launched Live Caption, a feature that provides auto-captions for all English language media content viewed in the Chrome browser. It works across social and video sites, on podcasts and radio content, and even on personal videos. It works on all types of computers — even Macs — as well as on Android mobile devices.
Once enabled in settings, a caption window pops up at the bottom of the screen whenever there is audio or video content. You can reposition the window by dragging and dropping or dismiss it by clicking the x on the upper right corner.
As with any auto-generated captions, there are errors, but in most cases, I found the captions to be well-synced and accurate. They even beat CNN’s own real-time captions for speed and accuracy in one of my tests. Accuracy and speed will only improve as the artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm is refined.
Turning Live Caption On Is Easy
Chrome was never my default browser, but now that I keep copying links of un-captioned content into Chrome to watch them, I may need to make the shift. Live Caption is easy to enable in the Chrome browser settings under Advanced, then Accessibility. Toggle the switch on and you are ready to go.
Captions Benefit Everyone
We all know that captions benefit people with hearing loss, as well as people watching videos in their non-native language, children and adults learning to read and people with audio processing differences. But more than 100 empirical studies demonstrate that captioned content benefits everyone else too.
Hearing loss or not, captions improve video comprehension as measured by
- higher rates of recalling facts
- drawing inferences
- defining words, and
- summarizing main ideas.
People also spend more time paying attention to captioned content. And captions make it easier to watch on mute, which most people on social media do.
These benefits create business reasons other than pure accessibility for all content to be captioned. More captioning not only creates better access for people with hearing loss — it make communication easier for everyone.
Captions Quality Standards are Needed
To be effective, captions must be accurate and well-synced with the audio. Ongoing advocacy is needed to help set and enforce quality captioning standards universally, irrespective of the delivery method. Good results will benefit us all.
Readers, have you tried Live Caption in the Chrome browser?