The feature was developed by product manager Liat Kaver, who’s deaf herself and was inspired by the lack of subtitles in her native language as a girl growing up in Costa Rica. She told us:
“I am deaf, so closed captions are indispensable to enjoying content. Today, finding live streams that are captioned is a challenge, which is why this project is so important to me. Our end goal is to make every video accessible, leveraging Google’s technology to achieve universal captioning.
I’m excited about bringing automatic captions to live streams, making them accessible to people that are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as to viewers watching without sound, when professional captions are not available.”
Twitch introduced live captioning back in 2016, but only for shows it produces — pretty understandable since the company chose to hire professional stenographers to manually type everything out. This feature will be available to a small percentage of YouTubers in the next few weeks and will roll out more broadly in the coming months. The platform is also planning to make it available in more languages in the future, which doesn’t come as a surprise given Kaver’s history.
In addition to live captioning, YouTube is introducing live chat replays. Readers who want to read the comment stream of a live broadcast they missed can now do so: It will appear beside the video and will play exactly like it did during the broadcast. Thankfully — hey, YouTube’s comment section isn’t exactly a friendly place — those who have zero interest in reading the chat can still hide it anytime.
Creators who love to travel can now also add location tags to their livestreams and uploaded videos. When viewers click on one, the results will show them more videos tagged with the same location. Finally, YouTubers can start making their streams more interactive by allowing Super Chats to trigger real events using using IFTTT. They can connect devices such as lights, pet feeders or even confetti cannons to the feature, so fans can trigger them and be part of the livestream, so long as they’re willing to pay for the experience.