Annabel Treshansky's Blog

…in which I don't go up mountains

Tag: Subtitling

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How to get Live Captions for Anything with Google Chrome Canary

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sometimes I wish I could caption literally anything. But at least since the move to home working, I’ve been wishing I could get live captions for online meetings and training sessions. I think transcripts are probably a bit too intrusive without consent, along the lines of making recordings, but live captions would often be so useful.

So I am very happy today, because I have finally found a way to get live captions that I think will work for anything with sound that plays in the browser on the computer. It was developed for Android first and so it involves installing a new version of Google Chrome called Canary, that is still in beta testing.

Here are the instructions:

  1. Download and install Google Chrome Canary from here:
    https://www.google.com/chrome/canary/
    Screenshot: Download Chrome Canary

    Downloading Chrome Canary: really liking the all-yellow version of the Chrome logo. I just know great things are ahead…


     
  2. Visit this URL in the Canary browser where you can change the settings:
    chrome://flags/#enable-accessibility-live-captions
     
  3. Enable live captions
     
  4. Relaunch the browser
     
  5. Switch on the Live Captions setting in the browser options (enter this URL to search for it: chrome://settings/?search=captions )
    Screenshot: Switch on the Live Captions setting in the browser

    Search for Captions and switch on the Live Captions setting in the browser


     
  6. You should be able to see captions whenever there are spoken words now. I can confirm that this works with Collaborate live sessions and video playback, as well as Teams meetings in the web browser (although the Teams Desktop App has better caption and transcript options of its own).

     

Testing out the Live Captions

The first chance I got to try this was in our morning Teams meeting…

So, here they are working in a Teams meeting in the browser:

Screenshot: Live Captions in Teams

Live Captions in Teams (Web Browser Version): Good to see them, though again, not perfect – if you have access to the desktop app, click the three vertical dots for better captioning options in Teams meetings. I look a bit goofy in the corner because I’m excited to see this working for the first time!

Here they are, working in a Collaborate video playback:

Screenshot: Live Captions added to video playback in Collaborate

Live Captions added to video playback in Collaborate: They aren’t always right, but they definitely are there!

Here they are working in a Collaborate live webinar:

Screenshot: Live Captions in Collaborate

Screenshot of Live Captions working in Collaborate: looks fantastic, very useful!
Is that Teams notification annoying anyone else?

And here they are working in YouTube:
(Which also has its own captions, but I’m including it as a demo)

Screenshot of captions in YouTube

Screenshot of captions in YouTube – in this case, very accurate too!
Also, lovely guided meditation, courtesy of The Honest Guys

So, I really like this – thanks, Google!

Can we have slow down, rewind and replay next please? I thought at first, they’re not miracle workers – but I suppose with enough buffering they probably could.

And I wonder if it would work with Google glasses…

Links

Subtitling screenshot

Subtitling and Migrant Stories

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the unexpected but nice parts of my job lately has been editing the automated subtitles on some of our teaching videos.

This is a requirement for our course materials, to ensure our videos are more accessible for, for example:

  • Deaf students
  • Students with other hearing difficulties, for whom subtitles can help with comprehension of fast spoken or unclear dialogue, perhaps spoken with unfamiliar accents, mumbling, or with background noise
  • Foreign language speakers, for whom the subtitles might help with translation and following along with the spoken text
  • Students with learning disabilities, attention deficits, or autism, who may find subtitles help them to maintain their concentration on the videos
  • Students who need to study in a place where they can’t play sound
  • Students who need to see the spelling of proper nouns, such as full names, brand names, or technical terms
  • Students who just prefer to watch videos with subtitles as a habit

According to research by Ofcom in 2006, 7.5 million people in the UK (18% of the population) used closed captions, and of these, only 1.5 million were deaf or hard of hearing. 80% of those who preferred to watch with subtitles used them for other reasons.

Since we moved to hybrid learning, we have more and more teaching videos to work on, so that is an occasional silver lining to social distancing for me, as subtitling is a nice, quiet and absorbing task, and our videos are often very interesting 🙂

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