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