Closed captioning has long been available to Zoom's paid users even before it rose to prominence last year as people turned to remote work setups due to the pandemic. The feature makes the platform more easily accessible to those who have hearing difficulties, and soon, automatic closed captioning will also make its way to all free accounts.
Zoom announced today that it will make live transcriptions available to all free users by the fall of 2021. For free users who need early access to automatic closed captioning prior to its broader rollout, Zoom has opened a signup page where they can manually request access to the feature.
Currently, meeting hosts need to manually add their own captions or rely on a third-party service, although an AI-powered live transcription has been available on all paid accounts. The upcoming feature is a welcome development for users with accessibility issues. That said, it will be initially available only in English.
Zoom is a bit too late to the game, however. Automatic closed captioning has been available with other team communications platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet for quite some time. Nonetheless, the upcoming feature will complement Zoom's existing accessibility tools such as pinning interpreter video and screen reader support, among others.