Live Caption for Chrome web browser helps HoH community

Part two of a two-part series on how technology can help the hard-of-hearing community.

Whether you are: checking email, shopping online, googling (yes, it's a word in the Oxford Dictionary) for a widget, watching YouTube videos, paying bills, registering for a COVID-19 vaccine, or streaming a movie from Westlake Porter Public Library or Cuyahoga County Public Library in Bay Village, one ubiquitous tool that you will need is a "web browser." Firefox from Mozilla Foundation, Chrome from Google, Edge from Microsoft, or Safari from Apple all do the same thing: pull up a website so you can benefit from all of the above and other things in the cloud, aka the internet.

Previously, we discussed an app and a feature that fall under the "accessibility" category. Accessibility settings make handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets more comfortable to use while compensating for physical disabilities. Through personal experience, I've been relying on the above every day for over a year.

The big news is that the latest version of Google's web browser, Chrome version 90, has the "Live Caption" feature baked into it! Anything that has audio playing inside the browser can have closed captions. If you are hard of hearing (HoH), no more sadness when the selected YouTube video does not have a closed captioning button; talk with confidence when you call someone using VoIP services like "Google Voice'' that enables you to make/answer calls to/from any 10-digit phone number anywhere in the continental U.S. for free; participate in a video meeting even when the selected service doesn't offer closed captioning.

Unlike the exclusive Live Caption feature available for select Android-based smartphones and Live Transcribe app that is also limited to Android-based handheld devices, Live Caption in the Chrome web browser cuts across Windows, MacOS, and ChromeOS. If you use a web browser other than Chrome, go ahead and download it to kick the tires as you can have multiple web browsers installed.

By default, Live Caption in Chrome is turned off so do the following if you want closed caption:

1. Click on the "three vertical dots" on the upper right hand of the Chrome browser;

2. Click on "Settings" from the menu that appears;

3. Click on "Advanced" on the left hand side of the screen;

4. Click on "Accessibility" on the left side of the screen;

5. Click on the first item on the right hand side of the screen under the "Accessibility" header with the text "Automatically creates captions for English. Audio and captions never leave your device" and make sure the switch turns blue (gray means turned off) at the far right of that first item.

Live Caption is also available for Chromebook users. This feature, typical of Google, is enabled in stages (i.e not everyone gets it simultaneously). Unless you are a "geek" that understands what it means to "switch to BETA channel," patience is warranted. It won't be long and is worth the wait, especially if you are HoH like me!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 9:59 AM, 05.04.2021