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April 16, 2021

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TikTok Adds New Auto-Captions Feature to Improve Accessibility

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TikTok has added a new auto-captions option for video clips, which will enable creators to switch on automated text overlays for their uploads, improving accessibility in the app.

TikTok auto captions

As you can see here, the new option will prompt creators to switch on auto-captions for their TikTok clips. When captions are available, viewers will then be able to read the text transcription of the clip, which will be overlaid on the playback.

As explained by TikTok:

Auto captions automatically generate subtitles, allowing viewers to read or listen to content. As creators make content, they can select auto captions in the editing page after they’ve uploaded or recorded a video so that text is automatically transcribed and displayed on their videos.”

An important note, also, is that creators have the capacity to edit the automatically generated captions for their clips. You can see the edit option in the second screenshot above – as the video plays in the smaller window, creators will be able to view and update the captions for the clip.

Once switched on, the captions will be overlaid on the clip by default, but viewers will be able to switch them off within their playback options.

That could open up a range of new presentation opportunities, with research showing that captions can help increase view time, and boost responsiveness, while also adding another consideration into your presentation options.

Automated captions have actually been a big hit on TikTok clips already, with creators using the text overlay tool in Instagram’s Threads app to add on-screen text descriptions to their clips. 

As you can see here, TikTokers have been particularly enamored with how the Threads captions tool censors bad language, which they’ve used to add another element to their TikTok clips.

Instagram has since expanded its automated caption tools to IGTV, and is close to launching the same in Reels and Stories – so in some ways, it’s a little surprising that TikTok hasn’t gone with a more stylistic display of this new captions option in its clips.

The focus here is on accessibility over presentation, which is functional, and will help open the app up to more users. But I wouldn’t be surprised if TikTok also added more Threads-style font and text overlay options in future. which could make this an even more interesting element in the video creation process.

In addition to this, TikTok also notes that it’s currently undergoing an accessibility assessment in order to identify additional ways in which it can improve its tools for a wider breadth of users.



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