Zoom removes paywall from important accessibility feature

Earlier this year, Zoom announced plans to make its automatic closed captioning feature available to everyone, not just paid subscribers. The company had said at the time that it would roll out the feature to everyone at some point in fall 2021, and as promised, that time has finally come. You no longer need to pay to use the accessibility feature.

Live transcriptions during Zoom calls are a nice feature to have available for many users, but it is a critical participation tool for those who struggle with hearing. Locking accessibility features behind paywalls has proven controversial for the obvious reason that it forces those who need the features to pay for access.

Zoom has made good on its promise to release automatic closed captions for free users, stating in a blog post that "it's important to us that everyone can successfully connect, communicate, and participate" in video calls. The feature likewise remains available to paid customers. Users on free accounts can enable the automatic closed captioning feature through the Zoom web portal.

The company notes that single users who access Zoom under a multi-account will need to get their account administration to enable the feature for users before it can be accessed. The meeting toolbar allows video call participants to privately ask the host to enable live transcriptions, plus Zoom retains the support for third-party captioning services and manual captioning.

The automatic closed captioning feature joins Zoom's other accessibility features, including support for screen readers, the ability to spotlight interpreter videos, voicemail transcription, and keyboard accessibility tools, among other things. Users who want to enable automatic closed captions can find more information about the feature in Zoom's related support document.