The latest move to make podcasts and other digital audio more accessible comes from Google which says Google Chrome will now feature live captioning capabilities. In a joint announcement, Emily Scharff, Google’s Product Manager of Chrome & Chrome OS Accessibility, and Madan Kompalli, Google’s Product Manager of Speech, say Live Captions on Chrome will automatically generate real-time captions for media with audio on the browser. “It works across social and video sites, podcasts and radio content, personal video libraries (such as Google Photos), embedded video players, and most web-based video or audio chat services,” they wrote in a blog post.
The captions in Chrome are created on-device, which allows the captions to appear as the content plays without ever having to leave a computer. Live Caption also works offline, so users can caption audio and video files saved on their hard drive when they are played in Chrome. The feature is currently available only in English on the latest release of Chrome on Windows. Google says the feature will be coming soon to ChromeOS for Mac and Linux devices. The feature is activated in the Accessibility section of Chrome Settings.
Google notes that while the feature will be helpful for anyone trying to consume content in a noisy setting, the real target is the 466 million people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. Laura D’Aquila, a software engineer on Google Workspace who is hard of hearing, is among them. She was an early tester of Live Captions inside the company. “With Live Caption, I no longer have to miss out on watching videos because of lack of captions, and I can engage in real-life conversations with family, friends or colleagues about this content. Just recently, my coworker sent a video to our team’s chat, but it was not captioned. With Live Caption I was able to follow along and share my reactions to the video with my team,” she said in the blog post.