YouTube is Loud and Clear, Even If You Can't Hear

Upgrade makes videos more acccessible

By Scott Budman
|  Sunday, Mar 7, 2010  |  Updated 12:17 PM PDT
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A Day in the Life of YouTube

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A YouTube video of US President-elect Barack Obama's weekly radio address is seen on a computer screen in Chicago on Nov. 22, 2008.

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Deaf Google Engineer Creates Closed Captioning for YouTube

Ken Harrenstien, a deaf software engineer at Google, has realized a personal dream by creating a system to generate closed captions for YouTube videos. Beet.TV's Daisy Whitney visited Google to get the scoop.
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Television has closed captioning and subtitles. But for a new generation, YouTube is the new TV. How do those who are hard of hearing or don't speak English tune in?

YouTube took steps Wednesday to bring those people into its already vast audience of 100 million Web users, taking technologies from its parent company, Google, to broaden the reach of its videos.

By adding automatic closed-captioning, YouTube hopes to make its videos more accessible to the hard of hearing, and those for whom English is a second language.

Here's how it works:

Google Voice, an Internet phone service, already converts voicemail messages into text. Google Translate takes Web content from one language to another.

One Google engineer, Ken Harrenstien, has been working on closed-captioning technologies for YouTube for a while.

They're not alone in Silicon Valley in expanding the reach of the Web. Yahoo recently showed us its Accessibility lab, making its website easier to access and understand for people who are blind.

Who's behind these new features? YouTube has a lot of interesting characters. Check out my series on what it's like to work at YouTube.



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