Online captioning is some way behind its television counterpart. But steps are being taken to harness voice recognition software, for example on YouTube. This article was first published on Hearing Review:
"Whenever a video is uploaded to YouTube, the video owner now has the option to add captions. The user-friendly software automatically creates time-coded captions of the audio for free. Those captions add value to videos: videos with captions are searchable by text. That’s good for people with hearing loss and for anyone who wants their video to be found on Internet, notes the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Google has also found a way for viewers to get captions on videos already uploaded to YouTube. A viewer will be able to click on a key that says “transcribe audio.” That command will add captions to videos they want to see when they want to see it. It’s all done by machine, which uses voice-recognition technology to automatically caption the video.
Google and YouTube are in the beta testing phase with 13 educational partners. Because viewer-added captioning relies on speech-recognition technology, the captions are not yet perfect, notes HLAA. In fact, Google admitted to a 20% error rate, far below the 2% error rate we have come to expect from caption writers on broadcast television. YouTube videos that have music or noise or environmental sounds in the background will be even more problematic for accurate automatic captions.
The move is a huge leap forward for captioning on the Internet, says HLAA. “This is unprecedented because of the scale, it’s been done without mandates, and it’s free,” said Battat.
Ken Harrenstien, the software engineer who helped develop the automatic captioning system and who is deaf, indicated the technology has never been applied on such a large scale.