Summary:

Adding subtitles to YouTube videos just got easier: Amara now allows YouTube users to crowdsource captioning of their videos, which could help YouTube producers to grow their audience.

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Crowdsourced video captioning platform Amara launched an improved YouTube integration this week that allows any YouTube user to crowdsource the subtitling of their videos, utilizing many of the same tools that are being used by companies like TED, Khan Academy, Udacity and Netflix. The move could not only help YouTube producers to provide support for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, but also expand their international audience.

Amara's online subtitles editor.

Amara’s online subtitles editor.

Amara’s new offering links your YouTube account to a new or existing Amara account. Once that is done, all of your public videos are going to show up on your Amara profile, ready to be subtitled with the help of the platform’s subtitle editor. Users can add subtitles in dozens of languages.

You’ll also be able to invite others to help you, turning the process of captioning your videos into a collaborative project. Complete subtitles are automatically synced back to YouTube, making them accessible for anyone who watches the video. And Amara automatically edits a video’s description on YouTube, prompting your viewers to help you with the subtitling process.

YouTube's automatic captions: not always that accurate.

YouTube’s automatic captions: not always that accurate.

Of course, YouTube already offers automatic, computer-generated captions. However, natural language processing only goes that far, and humans can greatly improve the accuracy of subtitles. But Amara’s offering is interesting for more than one reason: YouTube publishers can encourage their viewers to translate their videos into many different languages, which could help them greatly expand their audience, and subtitles can greaty improve video discoverability in search engines.

Amara, which was originally known as Universal Subtitles, has received $1 million in funding from the Mozilla Foundation and the Knight Foundation. It started out as an open access-inspired project of the Participatory Culture Foundation, but now also offers enterprise tools for corporate clients, which include Netflix, Twitter, TED and a number of online education startups. To date, Amara’s users have created 181,000 subtitle tracks across 238 languages.

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