YouTube announces new audio features aimed at making videos more accessible

YouTube announced several new audio features on Thursday, some of which have already rolled out while others will launch in the coming months. Starting today, creators have the ability to enable live auto-captions for any livestreams in English to make streams more accessible. This feature was previously only available to creators with more than 1,000 subscribers.

YouTube plans to expand live auto-captions to all 13 supported captioning languages in the coming months. The supported languages include Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

The company is also currently testing the ability to add multiple audio tracks on videos to help provide multi-language audio for international audiences along with descriptive audio for people with vision impairments. The feature is currently available to a small group of creators. YouTube plans to roll out the feature more widely in the coming quarters.

YouTube is also rolling out auto-translation for captions in supported languages on Android and iOS later this year. The feature is currently only available on the desktop version of the platform. Further, YouTube plans to give users the option to search through transcripts on Android and iOS. Later this year, YouTube will test the ability for users to search for specific keywords within transcripts on mobile.

Additionally, YouTube is working on new channel permissions in YouTube Studio that allow creators to delegate caption and subtitle creation on their videos to someone they trust. The company previously announced this feature under the name “Subtitle Editor” and has acknowledged that the rollout of the feature is taking longer than expected. YouTube notes that it’s actively working on the feature and plans to keep creators updated in the coming months.

“Improving accessibility is a top priority for YouTube, and we hope these updates will help creators reach a wider audience,” the company stated in a community blog post.

YouTube first launched auto-captions in 2010 and has since worked to improve them and make them more widely available. The company brought auto-captions to YouTube Live in 2018. YouTube is among many other platforms working to launch more features geared toward improving captions in order to make their platforms more inclusive and accessible. For instance, TikTok added auto-captions to its videos earlier this year while Instagram added a captions option for Stories around the same time.