TikTok continues to make its app as accessible as possible, this time with the release of automatic captions. At launch, it supports two languages.
TikTok is taking another step forward in making the app a prime example of how to do accessibility right, with the company now rolling out automatic captions for all viewers and creators. Accessibility in technology doesn’t get the same attention that other features do, but it’s arguably one of the most important topics out there. The more companies can adapt their tech so it can be used by as many people as possible, the better.
Over the past few weeks/months, TikTok has rolled out numerous accessibility tweaks to its app so that it can do just that. Prior to automatic captions, TikTok previously added a creator warning message if someone’s video contains visuals that could trigger someone with epilepsy, a feature that allows viewers to automatically skip photosensitive content, and a text-to-speech function. While all of that’s great, automatic captions should prove to be one of TikTok’s most important new features yet.
TikTok says automatic captions are rolling out now with support for two languages:
American English and Japanese. Additional languages will be added “in the coming months,” but there aren’t any other specifics beyond that. For creators, automatic captions can be added via the editing page once they’ve uploaded a new video. Any text from the video is automatically transcribed, and if TikTok’s automation process gets something wrong, creators can go through the text and make necessary edits. For viewers, they can choose to enable/disable automatic captions by opening the share panel and then tapping the ‘captions’ button.
Why TikTok Auto Captions Are So Important
While some folks might look at this feature and brush it off as something they’ll never use, it’s also game-changing for a lot of other people. TikTok creators could add captions prior to this update, but they needed to be created manually — resulting in a bit of extra work that many just ignored. Now, captions can be enabled with just a couple of taps.
For users that are deaf or hard of hearing, this now makes TikTok a lot easier to use. It’s still up to creators to actually enable automatic captions, but given the lower barrier to entry, the hope is that captions will become more commonplace throughout the platform. TikTok also says that it’s working with its community of creators to encourage them to use automatic captions, in addition to the other accessibility features that are present.
Furthermore, TikTok notes that it’s working with The Deaf Collective to “increase awareness towards the range of diversity, talent, and conversations being had in Deaf communities.” Here’s to hoping more languages are added sooner rather than later, but either way, this is a great step forward.