Google Slides Gets Automated Closed Captions

Google is rolling out a new automated closed captions feature for Slides that will make the presentation tool a lot more accessible for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The feature uses the microphone in a presenter’s computer to detect what they’re saying and transcribe it in real time as captions on the slides. The captions appear at the bottom of the screen for audience members to read.

“Closed captioning in Slides can help audience members … who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it can also be useful for audience members without hearing loss who are listening in noisy auditoriums or rooms with poor sound settings,” G Suite Accessibility Software Engineers Laura D’Aquila and Abigail Klein wrote in a Monday blog post. “Closed captioning can also be a benefit when the presenter is speaking a non-native language or is not projecting their voice.”

To enable these automated closed captions when you’re about to give a presentation, click the “CC” button in the navigation box. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + c in Windows or Chrome OS, or the Command key + Shift + c if you’re using a Mac.

At this point, this feature works for a single presenter, who must be speaking US English and running Slides on a laptop or desktop using Google’s Chrome browser. Google said it hopes to expand it to more countries and languages in the future.

“The captions are powered by machine learning and heavily influenced by the speaker’s accent, voice modulation, and intonation,” D’Aquila and Klein wrote. “We’re continuing to work on improving caption quality.”

You can even use this feature when presenting slides over video conferencing software, such as Hangouts Meet. In this case, the captions will show up on the shared screen.

Google recommends asking your audience before enabling captions since some people find them distracting. For more on presenting with captions, head over to this support article.

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