The leader in viral video sharing has been working on automatic transcription of videos for nearly six years, though until now it's probably been used just as much as a tool of amusement as it has for people who legitimately need closed captioning. This week, Google made it easier for the video creators to add captions to their content at the point of submission.
As part of the update, YouTube now supports the following file formats - .SCC, .CAP, and EBU-STL. These are all standards that filmmakers use to add subtitles or captions to their videos, but until now they couldn't easily be converted into a YouTube format. In addition to adding technical support on the back-end, Google has changed the way captions appear for front-end users, making them more like what you'd see on TV.
As far as the auto-captioning tool, it still needs some fine-tuning which is a seemingly never-ending project. However, in addition to English, the site also supports automatic speech-to-text algorithms for Korean and Japanese. Add everything together, and it's obvious that making YouTube accessible for the deaf and hard-of-hearing is a significant focus for Google.