How TikTok Is Making Its Tools More Accessible

How TikTok Is Making Its Tools More Accessible

Published on 11th of April 2023

Everyone should be able to express their creativity, and TikTok has become an avenue for that. It's a vast space where people from different parts of the world can participate in each other's passions, whether cooking, K-pop, or ASMR. To make it an even more inclusive and accessible place for everyone, TikTok has rolled out new tools and features that address language barriers.

On TikTok, you can now enjoy auto-generated captions and translations for video descriptions and captions. These updates support various languages, including English, German, Spanish, Korean, and Indonesian. It's a new rollout, so we can expect to see more languages in the future.

Here's a quick guide to help you navigate the newest tools on TikTok and how you can be an inclusive content creator.

How TikTok's Auto-Generated Captions Work

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TikTok's auto-captions tool generates subtitles for videos, allowing users to read, aside from listening to content. It makes the app more accessible to deaf users or those who are hard of hearing.

To use this feature, creators can tap on the auto-captions icon, and the app will automatically generate subtitles for original sounds in their video. The captions will show on their video once published, and they can edit the text as they see fit.

Viewers can turn the auto-generated captions on and off by tapping the captions button. You can also choose different languages if the creator has provided that option.

How TikTok's Auto-Translations Work

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TikTok's auto-translation tool translates video descriptions, captions, and even text stickers into a language of your choice. This feature aims to increase inclusivity on the app, allowing users to appreciate text in their language.

Users can access the auto-translation tool within the app's settings. Tap on "Settings and privacy" and then "Language." Activate the "Show auto translations" option and select your preferred language.

Other Accessibility Features on TikTok

Before introducing the new auto-caption and auto-translate tools, TikTok already had various features geared towards inclusivity and accessibility. Because visuals play a massive role in the app, these features cater to users with visual impairments.

Photosensitivity Feature

Some videos on TikTok can trigger severe reactions in users with visual sensitivity or epilepsy. The app's photosensitive epilepsy toggle aims to protect such users from videos with possibly harmful creative effects or filters. A warning message will appear if a video contains light flashes that can trigger a seizure. It's up to the user if they want to continue or skip watching it.

Creator Warning

The app notifies creators when they’re about to publish content with triggering effects. They then have the option to edit their videos to make them appropriate for all audiences, including those with visual sensitivity.

Text-to-Speech Feature

TikTok's text-to-speech feature allows users with reading or visual impairments to enjoy all kinds of content on the app. Aside from being an accessibility tool, it has also become a way for creators to get creative with their videos. So far, people have been entertained to see what kind of words the bot can and cannot pronounce.

It's a simple tool to use. Just type out what you want to say, and the app will automatically add narration to your video.

Animated Thumbnail

Users have different visual preferences and accessibility needs. To accommodate everyone, TikTok gives the option to have either animated thumbnails or static images. Users can toggle this in the app's "Settings and privacy" menu under "Accessibility."

How TikTok Creators Can Make Their Content More Accessible

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Being a content creator isn't just about making viral videos on TikTok. It's also about engaging with your audience and presenting information in an accessible manner. At least 15 percent of the world's population has some form of disability. You want to make content that includes them, too. Below are some ways you can make your TikTok videos more accessible.

Caption Your Videos

Adding captions to your TikTok videos is one of the best ways to make your content accessible and engaging. It's much easier to caption your posts now that TikTok has an auto-caption tool. You can also do this on your own if you want to be more accurate or if your language isn't supported by the auto-caption feature yet.

Write Video Descriptions and Enable Text-to-Speech Voiceovers

Video descriptions are a great way to reach out to your followers with hearing impairments. When you aim to be as descriptive as possible, you're giving them a chance to experience your content the way others do. You can describe visuals like facial expressions, movement, and animation effects. With TikTok's auto-translate tool, more people can understand your video descriptions.

You can also enable text-to-speech voiceovers to accommodate those with vision impairments. Creators often use text in their videos, but not everyone can read them. Also, some people prefer listening to reading through their screens.

Format Your Content Properly

TikTok offers plenty of formatting options for fonts, backgrounds, and colors. When formatting and designing your content, it’s essential to keep viewers with visual impairments in mind. That way, users with low vision or color blindness can read your content easily.

Select accessible font styles and sizes and choose visible placements for your text. You can’t go wrong with the Sans Serif fonts, such as the typewriter and classic fonts. It’s best to place your text at the top of the screen so it doesn't overlap with the video description at the bottom.

There should also be enough contrast between the words and your background. It's best to use white text against a black background for a contrast ratio of 21:1. But you can also opt for light colors against deep hues. According to WCAG, it's ideal to have a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Use the Right Words

It's hard to convey tone without body language or facial expressions, so choose your words wisely. Practice as much sensitivity, kindness, and respect to avoid alienating certain groups of people

The Bottom Line

The road to complete inclusivity is a long one, but social media apps like TikTok are making much progress in this area. Creators can also do their part by intentionally making their content accessible to everyone.

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