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YouTube now more accessible to deaf... and search engines

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Gids | 12:37 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Google has announced this week two new subtitling features for YouTube: "Automatic Captions" and "Automatic Timing" which use speech recognition technology to automatically create and time subtitles.

This could finally open up the world of web-video to deaf viewers, by making it far quicker and easier for producers to add subtitles without specialist knowledge. It's true, as Charlie Swinbourne's Subtitle Diary showed on Ouch! the technology is currently far from 100% accurate, but with 20 hours of video a minute currently being added to YouTube alone, it should mean a big improvement.

But I would argue the real driver behind this is search. By adding subtitles search engines can understand much more about the content of videos, potentially jumping to the moment in the video a certain keyword is spoken. In short: subtitles have far more uses than just for deaf people.

The BBC is using similar speech-to-text technology on its new comprehensive politics site Democracy Live to search videos of parliamentary proceedings. It could now spring up all over the place and whatever the motive, create a much more accessible web for deaf people.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    As somebody who works for a subtitling company where voice recognition software is only being trialled (largely because it is not yet advanced enough to be used more globally), I would be very interested to learn how Google/YouTube have been able to achieve these accurate "automatic captions" - especially when dedicated subtitling software manufacturers have failed to make it reliable. Presumably, though, it is only a matter of time before these automatic captions are used for all TV programmes, which can only spell redundancy for most of us in the subtitling industry. That said, I imagine the grammar of these automatic captions might leave something to be desired, so perhaps we can then charge more as "subtitling consultants" to smarten them up!

  • Comment number 2.

    I doubt the accuracy too ! The current BBC auto captioning is getting a lot of flak from the deaf, it's outrageously incorrect at times on the news. As far as auito-captioningonline there are a number of issues to overcome. (1) Is that vblogging deaf who sign may have poor speech which auto captioning will not be able to translate, the other (2) Is that the cultural and signing deaf have consistently so far opposed subtiles/captions on their own blogs, despite already having the ability to do so. It appears to be a 'purist' view in that deaf communicate by sign so don't want it watered down by text. AS a regualr contributor to deaf sites online I have read opposition for years to captioning from them, indeed the broke away from text driven sites and aggregates to do strictlty sign only output. This has made it very difficult for other deaf to follow any of them and obviously the various sign modes make that difficulty worse. We are getting nowhere, because the signer doesn't want to give access, and only wants to sign, so I presume the output will mainly be down to acquired deaf or deafened or hard of hearing mostly. It's a shame the deaf feel like that, but they are saying if they don't prevent text access to their signing blogs then sign will be in danger. People won't attempt to sign or watch it, but follow the text instead. The conundrum is they are heavily lobbying FOR captioned access everywhere else, go figure.....

  • Comment number 3.

    @APM 52, I'm sure human subtitlers will be around for some time yet, particularly, given the amout of extra information required for example to effectively subtitle a drama programme.
    Google themselves admit that their completely automatic subtitling mode is currently far from 100% accurate, see their blog post for more details: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/automatic-captions-in-youtube.html nevertheless I think it's interesting to see them entering this area in a big way.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

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  • Comment number 6.

    I'd agree that inaccurate auto captioning probably shouldn't be published widely, outside of some sort of test audience, perhaps. However, even if the technology isn't there yet in terms of accuracy, it is still a good step that these viewers are being kept in mind.
    I would like to add educational videos about moving and packing to youtube soon. As [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]we do have deaf clients from time to time. Being able to provide the instructional videos for the deaf or hard of hearing (or those who like the visual with the audio) 'pre-move' would be great.

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  • Comment number 10.

    Automatic speech recognition with the caption system is doubtlessly a great technology for those who are hard of hearing, but search engines are blind and deaf crawlers, I would be interested in knowing how they track the keywords in the subtitles of the subsequent videos! However, the accuracy of the caption system should be tested before it’s distributed widely. This is certainly a boon for deaf people as they would be able to understand and grasp things more quickly. Video tutorials with subtitles would prove an advancement in the field of educational systems when applied widely especially for deaf.I do come across customers, who find it difficult to understand things when it comes to transportation and shipping their cars across the country. It has always been a tough job for us to make them understand the services, and thereby convincing them. I am looking forward to create such videos with the caption system. Surely, this would be a great step in the auto industry [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] as well as for those who make use of this.

  • Comment number 11.

    Automated captions and timings is obviously a meaningful technology. Well the accuracy factor should be given more significance. However, even if the technology isn't there yet in terms of accuracy, it is still a good step that these viewers are being kept in mind.

    Megaan
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 12.

    I am a little mixed about this news. First of all, I think it is important that search engines find a way to rank and sort relevant video from spammy content without wasting resources. Automation is crucial to the evolving web and is the only way sites will be able to keep up with the mass influx of content.
    On the other hand, as a blogger that does [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] baby product reviews, I would like viable information to be transferred to deaf viewers without errors. I believe that deaf parents should have the right to receive fair and impartial information while still being entertained by video. I guess in the meantime I will have to continue to write my posts with the same caution and care as I always have.
    I guess this just goes to show that content is still king.

  • Comment number 13.

    Automatic speech recognition with the caption system is doubtlessly a great.chicago movers

  • Comment number 14.

    My breother is hearing impaired and he is amazed by the accuracy of the Youtube subtitles. It's a great thing that this feature is available.

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  • Comment number 17.

    Google's Technology is increasing day by day, I have a little doubt that YouTube and Google search engines are inter-connected. I too used the speech recognition technology in one of my project in my college, actually the project is like this, if we type anything in your PC it automatically speaks what you have typed on your PC. It uses the speech recognition technology and Google's new feature of YouTube must reach all the young generations. Thanks for the good article.

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    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

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  • Comment number 28.

    I can not wait to use this tech.
    Where to see the official notice?

  • Comment number 29.

    My friend [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] has told me how to use it just now.
    Well, I'm not very satisfied because it's not as fast as it promised.

 

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