Hearing-impaired users of Google’s Hangouts group video chats can now follow the conversation through live captions, thanks to a new Hangouts app released Thursday at the National Association of the Deaf’s annual conference in Louisville, KY. Hangout Captions currently only works with human transcription, but machine-powered transcription seems like the logical next step for Google.
Hangout Captions were announced by Google’s Technical Program Manager for Accessibility Engineering Naomi Black, who wrote on Google+ that users can either use in live captions from a professional transcription service, or simply do it themselves and type the spoken word into a text box within the Hangout app. “This is an early look at the app so you can tell us what you think,” she added. Black illustrated the functionality with the following video:
This isn’t the first time Google has addressed issues of accessibility for Google+. The Google+ team did some tests to better support sign language for the video chat service a year ago, and the company added captions for Google+ videos last month.
Google has also been adding a number of captioning features to YouTube. The site is now supporting machine captioning in multiple languages, and added captioning for live events a year ago.