Zoom enables automatically generated captions for everyone

Few pieces of software have become more important during the pandemic than videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom. All Zoom Meetings accounts are getting updates that will make them significantly more useful for anyone who's ever had difficulty understanding what someone in the meeting is saying. With the new feature, as someone speaks during a meeting, live automatic captioning is created at the bottom of the screen.

Auto-generated captions, also known as live transcription, are available for paid Zoom Meetings and Zoom Video Webinar accounts. Without proper accessibility tools, some people with disabilities have significant barriers to using video meeting platforms. The company says auto-generated captions are a significant part of its focus on building an accessible platform that everyone can use.

Enabling auto-generated captions is done via the Zoom web portal. Full instructions for enabling the feature can be found here. Zoom does warn that single users with a multi-account will have to work with the account admin to enable captions. However, users participating in the meeting can privately request the meeting host enable live transactions during the session directly in the meeting toolbar.

In case administrators of corporate accounts have other captioning tools in place, Zoom does support manual captioning and the integration of third-party devices in addition to its auto-generated caption service. Currently, captions are available in English but will be expanded to include other languages in the future.

The new caption service isn't the only feature Zoom has to improve accessibility across the platform. Other features include keyboard accessibility, the ability to pin or spotlight interpreter video, support for screen readers, and transcription voicemails. Additional accessibility features will be rolled out in the future, but there's no indication of what those features might entail at this time.