YouTube: We know automatic subtitles aren’t good enough

Wednesday 4 February

YouTube has said it “fully admits” that automatic subtitles, or closed captions, for deaf and hard-of-hearing users are “by no means good enough yet”.

The firm, speaking to BBC Radio One’s Newsbeat, added improving them is “a big priority”.

The pledge comes as a campaign launched by hard-of-hearing vlogger Rikki Poynter continues to win support.

She says the automatic service “makes absolutely no sense 99% of the time”.

“I can look up a video about concealers and somehow the automatic closed captioning will be talking about zebras,” she told Newsbeat.

Her campaign, which asks YouTubers to manually subtitle their videos, has gained the attention of high profile vloggers including Tyler Oakley and Laci Green.

Rikki, 23, said it’s great that awareness of closed captioning videos is increasing but it’s taken a lot of time and effort, including hand-writing to popular YouTubers until “my hand wanted to fall off”, to get to this stage.

She added, “It’s pretty frustrating because we’ve been trying to do this for years.

“We’ve also contacted YouTube themselves.

“If they couldn’t try to improve the automatic closed captioning then I fell like maybe they should just do without it because just seeing it knowing that it’s completely nonsensical is just ridiculous.”

In response to Rikki’s comments YouTube’s product manager Matthew Glotzbach said, “Although I think having auto caption is better than nothing I fully admit and I fully recognise that it is by no means good enough yet.

“It’s an area that we’ve been committed to really from the beginning.

“Frankly, it’s really hard computer science problem that hasn’t been solved that scale yet.”

Article source and full credit to: Jimmy Blake, Newsbeat

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