March 16, 2023
Just last month, TikTok had 104 million downloads (increased about 46% compared to last year). Available in over 150 countries and home to over 1 billion users, Tik Tok aims to foster an inclusive environment and welcomes members of all communities to join and participate. While Tik Tok’s future in the United States remains uncertain, these are major statistics that have made it important for TikTok to cater to all users’ needs, specifically in light of accessibility measures.
TikTok first introduced auto-captions to accommodate individuals who are hard of hearing. Auto-captions are automatically generated subtitles that transcribe the audio of a video. This allows users that cannot listen to the video to read it.
How it works:
Once a video is recorded in TikTok, users are then navigated to the “edit” page. Within this page, users are able to turn on auto captions. Because the text generates automatically, there may occasionally be some flaws. Users are given the option to edit captions to ensure the audio is transcribed correctly. Some users prefer to scroll through TikTok without captions. For these users, all they need to do is navigate to the share panel, tap the captions button, and set captions off.
Why they matter:
Ensuring accessibility of content is essential to providing a more inclusive experience. Auto-captions are not a requirement; however, passing on this feature may exclude an audience that may have interacted and engaged with the content. Utilizing this feature will only allow for a more enjoyable experience for all users.
Though the original intent was to accommodate individuals who are hard of hearing, auto-captions can also extend beyond this community. TikTok users reportedly spend about 95 minutes per day on the app. Knowing this, we have to assume that some users, for some portion of their screen time, may scroll with their volume off. Auto-captions accommodate to these viewers as well, allowing them to continue engaging without listening.
Basically, applying auto-captions to your content is only beneficial. It allows for an increased chance of engagement while catering to accessibility needs among the platforms diverse community.