Instagram is broadening its accessibility tip with the launch of its latest feature, the captions sticker. The update acts like closed captioning, allowing users to watch Instagram Stories without the sound on — and it’s a huge win for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Tech Crunch broke down how to utilize the new Instagram feature, and it seems pretty intuitive; creators will first record a new video using the Stories or Reels Camera in the Instagram app, or select a video to upload from their phone’s gallery. Then, after opening the sticker tray, creators simply click the new “Captions” sticker, which will convert the video speech to text. In classic Instagram fashion, the captions are totally customizable. Creators can adjust the style, positioning, text, and color to their hearts’ content.
Instagram’s update of course follows TikTok’s, but there are some key differences. Instagram’s caption feature is only available in English for now and can be edited, while TikTok’s captions service automatically translates the speech from a TikTok video into either American English or Japanese, but lacks customization options and can be turned off by the viewer.
Speaking of TikTok, the creators over there have long been advocating for the use of closed captioning across video media. Deaf creators like Scarlet May, who went viral for her hilarious “Deaf Kardashians” TikTok series, have used their platforms to explain just how crucial the use of closed captioning is for true accessibility.
"I think the most important message that I want to share is adding closed captions to social media," she explained to NYLON last year. "The deaf community wants to be involved, and we don’t see many deaf people on TikTok because they don’t have the access, or they don’t feel comfortable on the app at all. It’s definitely my main focus."