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Instagram Makes IGTV More Accessible With Automatic, AI-Driven Captions

Instagram on Tuesday rolled out a new feature to IGTV: automatic video captions. The captions are powered by artificial intelligence and localized in 16 languages. Users will see captions automatically if there’s no sound; they will have the ability to control how and when captions are viewed in Settings. Captions can be toggled on and off in a drop-down menu within a video.

Instagram said many users requested the captioning feature.

Today’s addition has precedence—it isn’t the first time Instagram has leveraged AI to enrich the user experience. The company in 2018 introduced automatic alternative text functionality, known colloquially as “alt-text” in the blind and low vision community. “With more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments, we know there are many people who could benefit from a more accessible Instagram,” the company said at the time.

In a broad scope, the concept of providing real-time captions in video parallels Apple’s Live Titles feature in its Clips app. Released in 2017, Clips has a characteristically rich accessibility story. As Apple told me at the time, they saw Live Titles as a way to make videos more accessible—not just for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, but also anyone with an accent or anyone who prefers bimodal sensory input.

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