Making YouTube videos accessible in foreign languages | Varn


21 January 2014

How can I make my YouTube video accessible to foreign language speakers?

It only takes a few minutes to set the ‘caption’ and ‘transcript’ services that YouTube launched in 2013 to aid the hard of hearing and open up your video’s message to all foreign language speakers.


When you upload a video to YouTube a text version of the dialogue is automatically added by YouTube’s voice recognition tool. To see an example of this open any YouTube video and turn on ‘Captions’. This is located on the menu bar on the bottom of the video, to the right side of the clock symbol – see point 1 in the image below.

Turning on captions will display a text version of your video dialogue on the screen that is refreshed for each new line of dialogue so it can be read by the user in real time. It is also automatically translated into the language of the user, so if they are watching your company video in France a French translation of your text will appear on screen allowing the user to follow your video.


Transcripts are the full text version of your audio not corresponding to any visuals. To view the transcript as a video is playing click on the ‘Transcript’ button – see point 2 in the image above. You will then see the full dialogue of the video as text and can select a language from the drop down box for a full translation, see example below:

If you want to add, edit or improve the captions or transcript then follow these simple instructions:

  1. Log on to your YouTube account and select the video you wish to edit.
  2. Click the ‘captions’ button, this will open the video.
  3. Click the drop-down on ‘Add Captions’.
  4. Select ‘Transcribe and sync’.
  5. Set the language from the drop down menu.
  6. Type or copy and paste the transcript into the box.
  7. Next, click the Sync button

You can review this and decide if you need to change the timing of the captions as they appear on the screen, as below:

  1. In Video Manager, Select ‘Captions’.
  2. Click on the caption track you would like to edit.
  3. If you click in the box displaying the time, it will play the audio for that snippet so the text should match.
  4. Click inside any line in the caption track panel and edit the text. You can copy and paste and edit the text as required.
  5. Remember to save when you’re finished.

Both captions and transcripts can incorporate sound clues such as [music] or [applause] to identify background sounds for the hard of hearing.

We expect YouTube, and other video hosting services, to make improvements in the usefulness of both captions and transcripts for the user over the next couple of years so keep an eye out for announcements of added functionality or contact us here at Varn on 01225 863047 for updates.

Article by: Tom, Managing Director of Varn Digital Marketing More articles by Tom

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