Hard of Hearing YouTube Star Campaigns for Better Closed Captioning

Rikki Poynter says the automatic service doesn't make sense most of the time.

ByABC News
February 7, 2015, 1:39 AM
Rikki Poynter is a hard of hearing YouTube star.
Rikki Poynter is a hard of hearing YouTube star.
Courtesy Rikki Poynter

— -- Hard-of-hearing YouTube star Rikki Poynter has garnered hundreds of thousands of views for her beauty and lifestyle videos, and now she is using her audience to shed light on what she says is a need for better closed captioning on the video-sharing website.

The automatic closed captioning service, which can be turned on by pressing the CC on the bottom right bar of YouTube's video player, often produces "a bunch of nonsensical mumbo jumbo," Poynter, 23, told ABC News.

"I've tried to watch a video about concealers and the automatic CC was talking about zebras. I've seen other makeup videos have random profanity and other R-rated or NC-17 words and phrases," she said.

Poynter said she has "less than half" of the hearing capability most people have in both ears. She summed up the often-frustrating experience of watching videos in a candid YouTube discussion she had on the topic.

"It's like, 'I see what you're doing but I don't know what you're saying,'" she said.

YouTube product manager Matthew Glotzbach told BBC Newsbeat that while having auto captioning is "better than nothing ... it is by no means good enough yet."

"It's an area that we've been committed to, really, from the beginning," Glotzbach said. "Frankly, it's a really hard computer science problem that hasn't been solved [on] that scale yet."

If the Google-owned YouTube can't come up with a solution yet, Poynter said she hopes more video bloggers will take the initiative to caption their own videos. When Poynter said she finds a video with producer-added captions, it's "like a breath of fresh air."

"It's so nice being able to watch a makeup tutorial with lots of information and know what’s going on," she said. "Or to watch a funny video and be able to get the joke."