Friday, January 23, 2015

Caption Action 2 Salutes Tyler Oakley!

It finally happened!!! A YouTube Superstar, Tyler Oakley, started closed captioning. Not only that, he went back and captioned his entire video catalog. All SEVEN YEARS' worth of videos are now captioned on Tyler Oakley's YouTube channel!

How big a star is Tyler Oakley and how much of an impact is this having? Huge!! Tyler has six million subscribers on YouTube and over three million followers on Twitter. Tyler also:
  • Won the 2014 Teen Choice Award for male web star
  • Was the 2014 Streamy Award Entertainer of the Year
  • Appeared with Michelle Obama in a video posted four months ago
Last week, Tyler posted a viral video, "Dear YouTube: Hear Me Out,"  that is STILL going strong a week later! As of this writing, it has over 1.2 million views worldwide. Tyler cleverly started the video by talking silently, with no sound. What better way to get the message across? Many of his hearing fans freaked out, thinking that their headphones had broken.

Plus, the hashtag Tyler used, #HearMeOut, trended worldwide on Twitter last week. Suddenly, thousands of hearing people - YouTubers included - became aware that there was a segment of the population missing out! Thousands of people, mostly hearing, tweeted their favorite YouTubers asking them to caption. Furthermore, many people took Tyler up on his invitation to translate the captions into multiple languages. Tyler is still tweeting about captioning. Just today, he tweeted "I'd love to see my YouTube friends join in and caption."

As a result of Tyler's video, many smaller YouTubers have begun closed captioning or announced that they would begin captioning! Over at Captioned Web TV, we have been feeling like kids in a candy store, picking and choosing who to publish. (We can't publish every YouTuber who captions).

Tyler is not the first YouTuber to post a video about the need to caption. In the past couple of months, several YouTubers have tweeted about the need to caption YouTube. Many were inspired by YouTuber Rikki Poynter, in her video Deaf Accessibility on YouTube! (Rikki had earlier also done a video "YouTubers, You Need to Closed Caption Your Videos!")

However, Tyler is the biggest YouTuber to date to tweet and post a video, about the need to closed caption on YouTube. So he has given captioning advocates the biggest boost yet! That boost was sorely needed, given that watching online video has become even more popular with young people.


Many of the top YouTube superstars have been remarkably silent even after Tyler's video was posted and he tweeted. One top YouTube star, Lily Singh, whose IISuperwomanII channel has over 4 million subscribers,  has indicated that she will look into captioning. Another top YouTuber, Hannah Hart, has tweeted in support of captioning, though she doesn't caption yet. However, there has been no reaction from top YouTube stars Pewdiepie, Smosh, or Epic Meal Time. One YouTube superstar is not enough to truly change things. We need more.

Also, we also still have the challenge of getting web series closed captioned. Web series are separate from YouTubers. As we explain it in the Facebook group Caption Action 2, there are two types of YouTube. Type I YouTube encompasses "traditional" YouTubers whose videos do not involve acting and telling stories. Most vloggers are Type I YouTube. Type II YouTube is the "storytelling" type and is closest to traditional television, because it involves real acting and real scripts. Both types of YouTube are important and deaf and hard of hearing people deserve access to both sides of YouTube.

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