Zoom now has auto-generated captions available for free accounts

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

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

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

The company has added more accessibility options over the past year, including support for screen readers and allowing multiple videos to be visible at the same time, allowing a sign language interpreter to be visible at all times, even when another user on the call is speaking.

To enable captions in Zoom meetings, an account owner or a user with admin privileges can sign into the Zoom web portal, then find “account management” in the navigation menu. Choose “account settings,” then click the “meeting” tab. Under “in meeting (advanced),” toggle the closed captioning option to enable it.