Try this: Why you should transcribe TEDx Talks

Transcribing and translating TEDx Talks is a great thing for many reasons. Here are just three:

1. Transcription opens up talks to the deaf and hard of hearing.
2. Videos with transcriptions rank higher in Internet searches — Google and YouTube index captions and give priority to videos that have them.
3. Once a talk is transcribed, it becomes available for translation. Each new translation opens a talk to an entirely new audience.

This is why TED created the Open Translation Project (OTP), a global volunteer effort to subtitle TED and TEDx Talks, and enable the inspiring ideas in them to crisscross languages and borders.

No matter if you’re a TEDx organizer, TEDx volunteer, or just a TEDx fan, transcribing and translating TEDx Talks is a worthwhile pursuit. But how do you do it? Here are 6 steps to get started:

1. Get familiar with TED’s Open Translation Project: Click around the website. Make sure you create an account and register with your TED profile to access the talks. This short video tutorial will help you set it up.

2. Join OTP social platforms: Meet the worldwide community that makes OTP possible. The Facebook group “I Transcribe TEDx Talks” gathers the folks who transcribe (and translate) TEDx Talks in one place. The OTP Twitter account (@TEDOTP) highlights talks that need to be transcribed and translated, and shares resources for volunteers and organizers.

3. Practice transcribing a talk: Pick a talk you like and transcribe it. Here’s a guide to transcribing a talk in 10 steps. Here’s a video tutorial.

4. Reach out to your team and community members: There’s strength in numbers! You’d be surprised by how many people would be interested in transcribing talks and how fun it can be. You could even go a step further and organize a Transcribeathon, like the folks at TEDxKraków. Read about their Transcribathon here.

5. Get those transcriptions translated: Put a call out for translators on social media. Talk to local university language departments. Reach out to a local OTP translator or ask a Language Coordinator to help you connect with the OTP volunteer community in your language. If you’re a TEDx organizer, remember that the TEDx-OTP Liaison Ivana Korom (, is here to help you with any subtitling issues.

6. Help transcribe and translate other TEDx Talks: Share what you’ve learned and give back to the OTP community. It’s fun!

For more information, visit the TEDx guide to transcription and translation before and after your event.

If you’re a TEDx organizer, check out this article with ideas on how to inspire your local OTP community to get the talks from your event transcribed and translated.

1 Comment

  1. Karl

    It would be interesting to see the opposite, using a a crowd sourced volunteer model for a free service that provided audio dictations of news articles on the web for the blind. Let’s take a website like the New York Times for example. Partner with a site like Soundcloud, and offet readers to contribute via a social media link on the page for them to dictate and record the article. Multiple volunteers could provide redundant dictations of the same article, and the community could vet the quality and accuracy of the recording through a voting system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address and name are required fields marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>