Zoom captions are available for free accounts

Zoom is keeping its promise to add auto-generated closed captions to all free Zoom meetings accounts in order to make its service more accessible, the company announced on Monday. The captions are only available in English for the time being, but the company plans to expand to other languages in the future.

“It’s critical to us that everyone can connect, communicate, and participate using Zoom,” Theresa Larkin, the company’s product marketing manager of meetings and chat, said. “Without the proper accessibility tools, people with disabilities face significant challenges when utilizing video communication solutions.”

Zoom had previously only offered AI-powered live transcription for paid accounts, which drew criticism from accessibility advocates who noted that the prevalence of Zoom calls during the pandemic left deaf users with few options. Without auto-captions, Zoom meeting hosts had to rely on a third-party captioning service or add their own captions manually.

Over the past year, the company has added more accessibility options, such as support for screen readers and the ability to display multiple videos at once, as well as the ability to display a sign language interpreter at all times, even when another user is on the call is speaking.

How to enable captions in Zoom

To enable captions in Zoom meetings, sign into the Zoom web portal as an account owner or a user with admin privileges, then select “account management” from the navigation menu. Select “Account settings,” then the “meeting” tab. Toggle the closed captioning option under “in meeting (advanced)” to enable it.

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