Zoom Closed Captioning

By: Verbit Editorial



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Zoom’s video conferencing platform usage continues to grow rapidly as professionals continue to conduct meetings and events from home post-pandemic. There has never been a better time to harness the benefits of a Zoom captioning service. By using Zoom closed captioning, you can maximize the impact of your Zoom meetings by making them both inclusive and more engaging. 

Captioning can be beneficial to everyone, even individuals who are not navigating hearing loss. Zoom captions can help keep your audiences’ attention, while also offering a way to participate when playing the sound is not an option.

Today, offering equitable and engaging Zoom meetings and recordings is a must. Staying informed on the Zoom captioning features and  third party captioners available to you can help you greatly improve communication with your employees, customers and audiences, especially as virtual meetings continue to be the norm.

Table of Contents – Zoom Closed Captioning

Does Zoom do closed captioning?

The Zoom closed captioning service does offer auto-generated captions for all users. However, when it comes to live captioning your meetings, especially those with many participants who may be joining from all over the world, it is important to ensure that your live captioning is accurate. 

Oftentimes, automatically generated captions are untrustworthy. Solely relying on auto generated captioning can lead to some potentially embarrassing errors if the AI fails to understand names or an intended meaning. 

You may be familiar with YouTube’s closed captioning video feature that allows the user to switch captioning on and off as needed. The result of the automatically generated captions is often garbled text, unless the owners of the videos themselves have intervened to type out the words. This example is just one of many reasons why caption accuracy is so important. Companies like Verbit partner with businesses in order to ensure that Zoom live captioning reaches high accuracy. 

How to enable closed captioning on Zoom

Zoom has many options for enabling virtual closed captioning in meetings and webinars. These options can be used for participants to easily follow conversations or to meet accessibility guidelines, such as those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In Zoom meetings, there are 3 options for enabling closed captioning. 

  • The host or another meeting attendee assigned by the host can provide manual captioning
  • An integrated third-party closed captioning service like Verbit can provide the captioning
  • Zoom’s automated captions (also known as live transcription) feature can provide automatic captioning through closed caption settings. Enabling closed captioning on Zoom is as simple as toggling the closed caption button in the player on and off

These same 3 options are available with webinars, although manual captioning can only be provided by the host or a panelist.

What is the difference between closed captioning and subtitling?

Sometimes it can be tricky to distinguish or remember the difference between subtitles and captions. Although both display text on screen, each one serves a very different purpose. 

Three people working on a laptop

Captions: Captions display the text of spoken dialogue in a video, TV show, movie, event or meeting. It is key to remember that with captions, the text shown appears in the same language it was spoken in the video. Captions can either be open or closed. Closed captioning means the captions can be turned on or off with the click of a button. Open captions are part of the video itself and cannot be turned off.

Subtitles: Alternatively, subtitles are a  translation of the spoken dialogue into another language. Most have been exposed to subtitles when browsing foreign shows on Netflix. Many streaming platforms, like Netflix, give you the ability to watch the content with subtitles in your language. Subtitles are what allow content to reach greater audiences globally.

It is also important not to mix up subtitles with audio description. Subtitles assume the viewer can hear the audio, it simply needs to be translated into another language in order for it to be understandable to the viewer. Audio description is a voiceover that is interspersed in the video’s pauses. The narrator doing the voiceover describes what is happening in the video, for instance, what the characters look like, what is happening on screen, and more. 

Auto-Captioning Concerns in Zoom

Zoom does have an auto-captioning feature on accounts, including those that are using the free subscription. While many disability advocates have celebrated this, there are still some concerns about how it affects the quality of the Zoom captioning software.

Zoom’s auto-captioning can be effective for providing accessibility in last-minute or emergency situations, but users should be aware of these factors:

Accuracy: Auto-captioning alone might seem great to the untrained eye, but it’s generally not good enough for situations where there’s more than one speaker, when someone with an accent is speaking or if it’s being streamed in a noisy area. These factors can cause the speech to text technology to make mistakes, lowering the overall accuracy level of the captions.

Legal Implications: Schools and businesses serve a diverse employee and customer base, and are likely to need to provide accommodations like captioning. However, it’s crucial to provide effective communication to adhere to ADA guidelines – providing professional captions like those offered by Verbit are only able to meet this need.

Cost: Zoom captioning is free, but the costs of using these alone might be greater – poor captioning results can lead to costly legal problems, damage your brand reputation and lead to more time and money spent on fixing poor captioning results.

People with laptops in a conference room

The Value of Using Third Party Closed Captioning for Zoom

For businesses and institutions that are looking to improve their accessibility, consider using third party closed captioning service for Zoom.

The benefits of Verbit’s professional speech to text solutions:

  • Ease of Use: 3rd party captioning solutions often provide more flexibility and customization options to Zoom meetings users. For example, Verbit’s live captioning solution also allows viewers to take notes and use an interactive transcript during live sessions.
  • Better Accessibility: Providers specializing in video accessibility have the advanced speech technologies needed to provide highly accurate results. Better captioning will ensure greater access for audience members who may or may not have a hearing-related disability.
  • Greater Audience Engagement: High quality captions that come from professional captioning solutions are known to increase engagement levels and improve comprehension outcomes

Zoom Closed Captioning: How It Works

Professionals who depend on Zoom, whether it be for day to day communications or large group meetings are implementing captioning as accessibility features. Live captioning for Zoom benefits individuals who are Deaf, but also assists with information retention while helping participants focus. For those who are looking to implement a 3rd party CC service for Zoom meetings, it’s useful to evaluate the different ways that providers have implemented this solution. Here’s how the 3rd party closed captioning service for Zoom works when using Verbit.

AI Zoom Live Captioning

For implementing Zoom captions, providers like Verbit offer the ability to connect an AI captioning solution to live sessions. The speech to text technology is able to ‘listen’ to the audio and instantly produce captions for the audience.

The live automatic captioning offered by Verbit uses a professional transcriber who enhances the results in real-time for greater accuracy. Once captions are edited, the captions are sent directly to the closed captioning feed within Zoom. Users can also make copies of the transcription from the event for later use, such as to send a copy of the transcript to attendees and for creating gated content for marketing purposes.

Live Zoom Captioner Solution

For educational institutions, Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) solutions that use live captioners are best used for content lectures and classroom discussions. When using this solution, the provider sends a live captioner to connect to the live Zoom session. Once connected, the professional captioner is able to listen to the audio and caption all speech in real-time. After the captions are written, the results are sent to the desired captioning output within seconds, in this case directly to the closed captioning feed within Zoom meetings.

The Future of Video Conferencing

While using Zoom’s auto-captioning solution is better than not captioning at all, leaning on an experienced 3rd party provider like Verbit, will help you to produce the professional captions needed for compliance.

Live speech to text tools like Verbit’s are helping professionals, event attendees and viewers participate effectively in real time. Using Zoom closed captions will help you provide greater access when hosting meetings and events on the platform so that individuals are provided with equal opportunities to participate and thrive in real-time. 

In addition to live captioning tools, Verbit provides useful video accessibility services and solutions like post-captioning, audio description and AI transcription. Contact us for more information on how Verbit’s 3rd party closed captioning service can help support your organizations’ video conferencing needs and offer the accuracy levels needed for ADA requirements.