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Facebook Live Improves Accessibility by Adding Closed Captioning

Facebook Live Closed Captioning

The instant popularity of live video streaming apps like Periscope, Snapchat, and Facebook Live proves that authentic, in-the-moment content effectively captures the attention of audiences worldwide. Today, one out of five videos on Facebook are broadcast live and are watched three times longer on average than non-live. Considering that more than 5% of the world’s population – about 360 million people – have some degree of disabling hearing loss, there’s a significant number of users that the social networking service cannot ignore when over 100 million hours of videos are watched a day.

Since 2014, it’s been possible to add captions to non-live videos when uploading to Facebook Pages, but on Tuesday, Facebook made an announcement that publishers on Facebook Live may now include closed captions on their broadcasts. This effort will – in addition to making more content accessible – get more users to watch videos, connect with each other, and see more ads. Publishers and advertisers can broaden their audiences instantly.

"We're particularly pleased with our progress in video as we move towards a world where video is at the heart of all our services." – Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook Reports Second Quarter 2016 Results.

Publishers of non-live videos unable to have the captioning done by a trained vendor may offer Facebook's automatically generated captions to their viewers; however, Facebook is not offering that service on the Live platform. Although the technology behind automatically generated captions has been improving, the quality still is not up to par. Auto-generated captions contain many inaccuracies, cluttered words, and lack punctuation. Third-party tools for auto-generated captions may be used in tandem with a caption encoder on Live, but Facebook will not be offering the technology currently in place for the non-live videos.

Viewers, if your caption settings are turned on, you will automatically see closed captions on Facebook Live broadcasts when they’re available. Directions on how to turn the captions on can be found here.

For more on the implementation of captioning on your Facebook Live videos, check out Facebook’s How-to Guide. Regardless of the platform used for your live broadcast, avoid the inaccurate and sometimes embarrassing closed captioning that comes along with auto-generated tools. Harvard received some attention last month for their captioning work on the commencement speech by (ironically) Mark Zuckerberg. Contact a captioning vendor like Aberdeen Broadcast Services to learn more about the process of getting a trained human writer on your broadcast.