TikTok announced this morning the launch of a new feature designed to make its app accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The company is debuting today automatic captioning, a feature that, when enabled, will automatically transcribe speech from a video so viewers can read what is said in the video as an alternative to listening. Automatic captions will initially support American English and Japanese, with additional languages in the coming months, TikTok says.
To use automatic captions, the creator will select the option on the edit page after uploading or recording a video. They can then edit the text that is generated to correct any errors before the video is posted.
Although designed largely for accessibility purposes, automatic captions can also help those who want to watch TikTok videos without the sound, for example when you are around other people who you don’t want to disturb, but who lack headphones. . They can also be useful for those watching videos in which they are not fluent in the language being spoken, as it is sometimes easier to understand what is being said when you can also read the words.
Many in the TikTok community had already embraced captions by adding text overlays to their videos or using third-party captioning tools. The text-to-speech trend, in which text on the screen is read with a Siri-like voice, has also remained a popular technique among creators.
But the auto caption tool will work differently than the existing options because the viewer can turn it on and off. That means you wouldn’t have to watch the video’s subtitles if you don’t want to. To disable captions, you must first open the sharing panel and then tap the captions button to disable them.
With the launch of automatic captions, TikTok joins other social applications such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, which already offer tools that allow creators to add captions to videos easily and automatically.
TikTok says it will work to spread the word among its creator community about the new addition to encourage users to make their videos accessible to a wider audience.
Automatic captions are now one of several accessibility features TikTok has released, along with warnings from creators when producing videos that could trigger photosensitive epilepsy and a photosensitivity feature that allows users to skip photosensitive content. The app also offers a text-to-speech feature and a feature to replace animated thumbnails with static images.
TikTok says it is also currently undergoing an accessibility assessment to identify additional areas for improvement, and has worked with The Deaf Collective to raise awareness of the talent and conversations taking place in deaf communities on its app. .