Christian Heilmann

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YouTube now with annotations – can we get those as an API please (captioning)?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

YouTube just released a new feature for video content generators: annotations. As you can see in this example video of someone jumping out of an aircraft the annotations show up whereever you want to put them on the screen and are time-based. You can even add links and hotspots to other videos and search results which means you can do interactive games using several videos.

Now this is all cute and nice, but what I’d want is API access to these annotations. This would allow us to provide not only captioning of the video for the hard of hearing but also information for blind visitors. I’ve written about this before, you can easily create an interface to have timed captioning on youtube but playing the captions back is trickier as you have no means of syncing the video (if the video buffers in between the captions and the video get out of sync).

Now, if YouTube came up with an API access to these captions that fires an event every time a new caption starts with the type of caption and its text value, it would be dead easy to update a hidden form field with that text (or an ARIA live region) to provide a poor man’s captioning and information for the hard of hearing.

YouTube could become both a larger consumer faced product by enabling more disabled visitors to gain access and a means of captioning video that is intuitive and easy to use.

I’d be happy to help out!