TikTok Launches Auto Captions In Australia And New Zealand To Support Deaf, Deafblind And Hard Of Hearing Users

Tyumen, Russia - January 21, 2020: TikTok and Facebook application  on screen Apple iPhone XR
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

TikTok has officially added auto captions to its platform in Australia and New Zealand.

Auto captions are automatically generated subtitles, meaning viewers can read content. TikTok’s goal here is making the app more accessible for members of the Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing communities.

Auto captions are not automatically applied to videos – creators have to select the auto caption option in TikTok’s editing suite after they have recorded or created their video. Creators can also edit the auto caption, in case of errors.

If a viewer wants to turn off captions, they can do it in the share section of the app.

According to TikTok, it will also be introducing “additional language support” over the next few months.

The app also says that it has consulted with Deaf Australia, and with local creators like Perth based comedian Frasier Chang-binns (aka @deaffrasier) and New Zealand based creator Chanelle Waite (@signwithchaz).

Chang-binns said, “I’m loving the new auto captions feature because it cuts down on the time I spend on editing and writing up my captions for my videos. I’m all for auto captions because as a person who is hard of hearing, I sometimes struggle with hearing words in a video which has an impact on my experience when browsing TikTok.”

“Whenever I see captions, I can rest easy knowing that I’ll understand the video without problems and I would love for everyone to use the auto captions feature as it only takes a few seconds to do. I reckon that this will bring the community closer to each other as we make our videos more accessible to everyone.”

Waite said, “auto captions are very important for the Deaf community to understand the content on TikTok and enjoy it. The community wants to be involved and this feature gives us an opportunity to join in on the action even more”

“I am passionate about advocating for the Deaf community in New Zealand and teaching New Zealand Sign Language to people around the world through my TikTok videos, so they can learn more about our experience.”

Deaf Australia has also given some additional suggestions for how videos can be made more inclusive, including:

  1. If there are two or more people talking and it is not clear who is talking in your video – please indicate through your auto captions. This can be done by adding initials or names when editing the auto captions.
  2. Ensure that your stickers, polls, text boxes or emojis are not blocking any auto captions.
  3. When editing your auto captions, please check that your grammar is accurate, so that people reading the auto captions understand the meaning of your content.

Jen Blyth, chief executive of Deaf Australia said, “Social media is an important way of staying connected to other people whether they be friends, families or strangers who have things in common with you. We know that everyone uses social media to learn new things, share experiences and feel seen and understood by others – Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people are no different. We want to see what you have to say! Please do give us the opportunity to.”

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