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Twitter Finally Adds Native Subtitling Options for Video

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Twitter is making it easier for deaf and hard of hearing users to consume video on the site.

Around the world, 466 million people in the world are deaf or hard of hearing. And while social media platforms are making strides to create experiences that can level the playing field for these users—image descriptions, facial recognition, and alt-text tools that work seamlessly with screen readers—deployment of these features has been slow. Twitter’s support for subtitles is among the latest advances that will equalize the user experience for these users.

It should be noted that Twitter currently supports the closed captioning available for users who opt into accessibility tools in their settings. But closed captioning differs from subtitling, which the company defines as “transcripts of the dialog or audio in a video in .SRT files that are attached to videos.” These files can be attached via Twitter Media Studio, Twitter Ads, or Twitter’s application-programming interface for developers.

Given how much Twitter use takes place on mobile devices (93% of Twitter video views take place on mobile), the ability to effectively and easily subtitle videos is beneficial to deaf and hard-of-hearing users, but also for individuals viewing this content without sound. Further, in the highly competitive landscape of mobile-optimized social, platforms that can accommodate the needs of users with disabilities will ultimately win out. By comparison, for example, there is no native mechanism by which to caption Instagram videos or Instagram Stories. It will be interesting to see if availability of these utilities on other sites will pressure them into creating their own native tool for doing so.

But in the meantime, Twitter continues to shine in the area of making content on their platform accessible. To utilize this option for your own video, select a video in your Media Studio, select the “Subtitles” tab in the displayed pop-up window, select the language you’d like to subtitle the video in and upload the .SRT file that holds your video’s transcript.

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