Youtube Captioning

(Contributed by: Ransom Q.)

Technology:  YouTube Captioning


First activated: September 19, 2006 [2]

Inventors: Ken Harrenstien (deaf) and Google Team [1]

How does it work? The original model used a text file with text and time stamps to show when the text should appear and disappear. Over the years there have been many improvements from the original system like Ken Harrenstien in that blog post back in 2006 [2]. Within that year they added features such as machine translation into various languages, automatic caption timing which allows videos producers to not have to worry about time stamps and Google’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to provide auto captions [1]. In 2015, Youtube gave the ability to add captions to the viewers of a video via community captioning [3].

What is the purpose? YouTube captioning provides access to video content through captions by making it easier to do caption timing in videos. If no captions are provided it will attempt to automate captioning of videos through an artificial intelligence. YouTube allows viewers to add or edit captions in any language.

How did it improve access to the environment? YouTube Captioning has improved access to spoken videos as well as signed videos, through means of allowing captions to be added or edited after the video has been posted. The community based captioning helps in both audio and sign based videos, since communities who want to assist everyone can add captions with the language that is used in the video which can then be translated into other languages.


[1] Harrenstien, Ken. “Automatic captions in YouTube.” Official Google Blog. N.p., 19 Nov. 2009. Web. 05 May 2017. <>.

[2] Harrenstien, Ken. “Finally, Caption Playback.” The Official Google Video Blog – Showcasing cool new videos from across the web and keeping you current with latest news from Google Video. N.p., 19 Sept. 2006. Web. 05 May 2017. <>.

[3] “YOUTUBE ALLOWS FANS TO CONTRIBUTE VIDEO CAPTIONS.” Media Access Australia. N.p., 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 5 May 2017. <>.


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