Web Captioner will sunset and be open sourced on October 31, 2023.
July 26, 2023
By Curt Grimes
Web Captioner will sunset and stop operating on October 31, 2023. Until this date, you can continue to access Web Captioner at https://webcaptioner.com/captioner.
Since its start in 2017, this project has provided a great opportunity to get the conversation going about accessibility and provide some tools to make spoken content accessible.
As I promised in the past, if I were to sunset Web Captioner, I would open source it. I will make the Web Captioner source available on my GitHub profile at https://github.com/curtgrimes on October 31, 2023 after Webcaptioner.com is sunset. I will open source it under the MIT license.
Go to Web Captioner
Available until October 31, 2023
If you used Web Captioner to add subtitles to live streams, many popular streaming services now have built-in automatic captioning available. If you are a content creator, consider enabling these options if they are not on by default. If a service, event, or stream does not provide captions, consider asking them to add this support. In the U.S., some public entities may also have an obligation to provide captioning.
Standalone alternatives similar to Web Captioner
I did not vet these alternatives thoroughly. This is not an endorsement. Be sure to follow through with your own research!
- Whisper AI (see also the Whisper AI GitHub repository) is an AI-powered speech recognition technology from OpenAI. It looks very promising to me. This requires technical knowledge to use in its current state. However, MacWhisper is a macOS app that provides an easy interface for using Whisper AI. I have used it with great results for easily turning audio files with speech into transcripts.
- ZipCaptions (GitHub) - Open source
- mimiuchi (GitHub) - Open source
Other standalone alternatives exist. You may want to search for alternatives using keywords like these: live captioning, live transcription, text-to-speech, closed captioning, live streaming captioning.
Other alternatives by platform or service
|Platform or service||Alternative|
|Windows||Windows has a live captioning feature built into Windows 11 version 22H2 and later.|
|macOS||Live Captions on Mac is available on Mac computers with Apple silicon.|
|iPhone||Live Captions on iPhone is available in some languages on more recent iPhone models.|
|iPad||Live Captions on iPad is available in some languages on more recent iPad models.|
|Android||Live Transcribe (by Google) comes by default on Pixel phones and can be installed on other Android phones that do not have it by default.|
|Facebook supports captions on Facebook live streams and captions on videos uploaded to Facebook. If you don't see captions, talk to the author of the video.|
|Videos uploaded to Twitter automatically have captions generated. Content creators can optionally upload an .srt file for manually written captions. If you don't see captions on video, talk to the author of the video.|
Twitch does not have an auto-generated closed captions feature. Contact Twitch and urge them to add an option for auto-generated captions. Twitch does give the ability for content creators to add closed captions, but it involves either technical knowledge and/or using a third party extension. Twitch streamers can use an extension like one of these for adding captions to their Twitch streams:
|Zoom||A meeting host or account admin can enable automated captions for Zoom meetings. If you don't see an option to turn on captions, talk to the meeting host or account admin. Alternatively, Stream Closed Captioner by Erik Guzman also supports Zoom meeting captioning.|
|OBS||Closed Captioning OBS Plugin by ratwithacompiler (OBS plugin page)|
Why sunset Web Captioner?
Since 2017, streaming platforms have continued to bake in captioning into their products, which is awesome! And within the last months and years we've seen an explosion of AI-powered speech recognition that can run locally and produce pretty decent results.
I regretfully have not had the time to improve and mature Web Captioner in the ways I originally wanted to. A mistake I made early on was making myself too available and open for feedback and support. I reached a point where I was spending more time troubleshooting users' microphone problems instead of developing new features in Web Captioner. While that may have been a good experience for a small set of Web Captioner users, as the sole developer of Web Captioner, this meant that I was no longer putting my time towards adding new features and fully realizing the vision I had back in 2017.
Another fundamental issue with Web Captioner is that it depended on the specific implementation of the Web Speech API only available through Google Chrome to produce a great result. While support for the Web Speech API has expanded to other browsers, the result users would see in Web Captioner would only ever be as good as those implementations, which left a lot out of my control. A non-trivial amount of feature requests I received were impossible to implement due to this dependency. That is not a good situation to be in. My eventual goal was to let users select (and pay for) a speech-to-text service of their choosing, but I did not have time to make this a reality.
Thank you for your support of Web Captioner over the years. Many donors helped support a portion of the costs of keeping Web Captioner running. If you would still like to donate, you can make a donation on PayPal.
To follow me in the open source space, check out my GitHub profile.