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Clubhouse app introduces long overdue live captioning

The popular voice-based app Clubhouse has finally acted on its glaring lack of accessibility. It has introduced closed captions for iOS users.

Accessibility on Clubhouse

In a world where live audio is becoming increasingly routine, social networking apps have taken their sweet time rolling out accessibility features. The trend seems to be that the product hits the market first. Access is considered afterwards.

Earlier this year, we reported on the dissent among deaf and hard of hearing users regarding Clubhouse’s obvious lack of inclusivity. The app’s over-the-top policy against transcriptions of chat rooms meant that most of us felt ignored. We were unable to access the benefits of audio-based networking.

“The app’s over-the-top policy against transcriptions of chat rooms meant that most of us felt ignored.”

Read more: How Clubhouse App Lacks Accessibility

It’s a relief then, to read Clubhouse’s recent announcement that it is rolling out a closed captioning feature on iOS. Hopefully, it won’t be a long wait for Android users.

According to TechCrunch, the 13 languages currently supported include: English, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Turkish. There are plans to add more soon, according to the announcement. Some users have pointed out glitches in non-English language detection. These teething issues are expected to fade out along the way.

The March to Inclusivity on Social Media

Clubhouse was by no means the first to face criticism over lack of accessibility. Twitter went through the same when it “forgot” to caption its audio tweet feature. It was only a few months ago that Twitter Spaces followed with transcriptions. The same goes for TikTok and Instagram. TikTok introduced auto-captions in April this year. Instagram did the same in September 2020.

Read more: TikTok, Instagram now have auto captions

Clubhouse is among the last of app heavyweights to finally pay attention to the missing words. The “social audio app” has been shedding its cumbersome exclusivity in spurts. It began as an invite-and-iOS-only – and might we add, abled-only – app. This worked in its favor in terms of attracting funds.

Over time though, thankfully, it has not only shed its elite waitlist and embraced Android. In September this year, Clubhouse also rolled out Replay. This is the option for app’s users to record the chats taking place in audio rooms. It’s about time we had live transcriptions!

Author Details
Mineli is an India-based writer with unilateral hearing loss and multilateral appreciation for all things silent. She’s a content writer by the day and a poet by night, and whenever there’s a moment free between the two, she takes off to the nearest forest for a quiet chat with the birds.