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Zoom removes paywall for auto-generated captions in meetings

Zoom App Windows 11 Store
Zoom App Windows 11 Store (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Zoom now supports auto-generated captions on all free Zoom meeting accounts.
  • The feature was previously limited to paid accounts.
  • Auto-generated captions are currently only available in English, but Zoom plans to expand them to other languages in the future.

Zoom meetings now support auto-generated captions regardless of if someone has a free or paid account. Before this change, people had to have a paid account or use a third-party captioning system for Zoom meetings. Auto-generated captions, also known as live transcriptions, are currently available in English. Zoom will expand the feature to other languages in the future.

"It's important to us that everyone can successfully connect, communicate, and participate using Zoom," says Zoom in its blog post announcing the change. "Without the proper accessibility tools, people with disabilities face tremendous barriers when using video communication solutions."

Auto-generated captions provide speaker subtitles in real-time during Zoom video meetings and webinars.

Zoom already supported AI-powered transcriptions, but the functionality was limited to paid accounts. This led to criticism for making Zoom meetings inaccessible to deaf people.

Shari Eberts equated captions to ramps for people in wheelchairs in a piece for the Washington Post:

Why is Zoom, the most popular video-conferencing company, asking people with hearing loss to pay for the equal access that they need? For those of us with hearing loss, captions are our ramps. But Zoom keeps them out of reach, hidden behind a paywall.

Zoom highlights other accessibility features that it has, including pinning or spotlighting interpreter video, keyboard accessibility, screen reader support, and voicemail transcription. Zoom also supports third-party captioning software and manual captioning.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

1 Comment
  • Who knows how long Zoom is going to stay at the top of the pile? They have nothing more compelling than a video conferencing system that a) works reliably and b) is now synonymous with video chat, because it just is. Meanwhile, Teams is chock full of org features and ties to Office. I don't mean the company ill, but one of my favorite graphs of 2020 was the stock price of Zoom before and after the first vaccine was announced. In any case, giving away this feature is just a sign that they know they don't have the market power they did only a few months ago. Competition is good.