Amara (subtitling)

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The logo of amara, a green ring.
Type of site
Localization management and crowdsourcing
Available inEnglish, and many others
Ownernonprofit, 501c3 organization
Current statusactive
LicenseGNU Affero General Public License v3.0[1]

Amara, formally known as Universal Subtitles, is a web-based non-profit project created by the Participatory Culture Foundation that hosts and allows user-subtitled video to be accessed and created. Users upload video through many major video hosting websites such as YouTube, Vimeo,[2] and Ustream to subtitle.


It uses crowdsourcing techniques to subtitle video as well as having a paid service for professionally created subtitles. Users of the project and service include Mozilla, PBS, Khan Academy, Netflix, Twitter, TED Talks, Coursera, Udacity,[3] and Google.[4] Most companies listed have "teams" organized by Amara on the website that focus on translation and caption of videos. Amara claims that it lowers the cost of captioning and translation by at least 95 percent because of their volunteer-based system.[5] Amara also provides an update blog.


The MacArthur Foundation issued a grant of $100,000 to the Participatory Culture Foundation in December 2010 specifically to support Amara, referencing looking to assist producers of online documentaries and other video creators in both translating and subtitling their productions.[6][7] Mozilla and the Knight Foundation invested a total of 1 million dollars into the project in 2011, citing support of global translations and the open web.[8][9] Mozilla awarded a grant of $100,000 in 2011,[9] while the Knight Foundation provided $250,000 in 2012.[10] Amara first hosted a "Translation Party" with PBS NewsHour in order to attempt to translate an interview into as many languages as possible on December 23, 2010,[11][12] then gained a partnership with PBS NewsHour in 2012 with a focus on translating videos to languages other than English.[13] Amara has been utilized by educational web start-ups Khan Academy and Coursera in order to allow for subtitles on public educational videos, with Coursera CEO stating that it was important to making accessible content to learners who did not have English as a first language.[5] In 2013, Amara released a feature that allowed users to connect their YouTube accounts to Amara and create subtitles for free that would show on both platforms. The website released an improved subtitling platform with this feature.[4]

Name change[edit]

Amara announced an official name transition from Universal Subtitles on April 5, 2012. The announcement cited the growth of the platform and increased potential to branch out of subtitling by using a less specific name. The name was chosen for several unspecified associations, but the announcement mentions the Spanish verb amar (to love) and that the word in Sanskrit means eternal.[14]


Taghreedat and Amara announced a partnership on August 30, 2013 in order to expand Arabic outreach through collaboration and increasing accessibility. The Amara interface was translated and integrated completely in Arabic as a result.[15] On December 14, 2013, Amazon Smile listed Amara as one of its options for donation.[16]

Educational platform[edit]

Ensemble Video, a multi-focused video company, partnered and integrated their service with Amara's subtitling editor on October 27, 2015, being the first higher-education educational platform to do so.[17] On October 17, 2014, Amara launched a new homepage design,[18] and on April 7, 2015, Amara switched its platform to a new API.[19]


Amara received a Tech Award in 2011 in the Equality category.[20][21] The FCC presented the Advancement in Accessibility Award to Amara on Oct 28, 2011.[22] It received the ninth Intercultural Innovation Award, a combined effort from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations & BMW Group, in 2011 for "bridging the gap" between languages.[23]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hopping, Clare (2014-11-03). "Vimeo upgrades captions and subtitles in bid for accessibility". Recombu. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  3. ^ Dekena, Gundega (2012-11-08). "Join the Udacity Translation Project!". Udacity blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  4. ^ a b Summers, Nick (2013-02-06). "Amara launches a free version of its crowdsourced subtitling platform for YouTube users". The Next Web. Amsterdam. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  5. ^ a b Crotty, James Marshall (2012-08-31). "Amara's Wiki-Style Translation Platform Enables Global Growth Of Education Startups". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  6. ^ "Participatory Culture Foundation". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  7. ^ "Supporting Translation and Subtitling of Online Videos". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  8. ^ Heim, Anna (2012-05-10). "Knight Foundation and Mozilla invest $1m in crowdsourced video translation project Amara". The Next Web. Amsterdam. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  9. ^ a b "Universal Subtitles Grant". Mozilla. 2011. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  10. ^ "Amara - Grants". John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 2012-01-01. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  11. ^ amarasubs (2010-12-23). "Translation Party: PBS NewsHour". Amara - Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  12. ^ "Geeking Out on Words Just Got Easier". PBS NewsHour. 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  13. ^ Sreenavasan, Hari (2012-04-03). "Translate This: A Campaign in Every Language". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  14. ^ amarasubs (2012-04-05). "Universal Subtitles is now 'Amara'". Amara - Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  15. ^ nprpculture (2013-08-27). "Our new Arabic Language Partnership with Taghreedat". Amara - Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  16. ^ amarasubs (2014-12-03). "Amazon shoppers: Here's an easy way to help Amara". Amara - Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  17. ^ "NEWS: Making Video Accessibility Simpler Than Ever". Notes from Ensemble Video. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  18. ^ "Amara". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  19. ^ pcfben (2015-04-07). "The New API is Here". Amara - Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  20. ^ "Past Laureates". The Tech Museum of Innovation. 2015-09-01. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  21. ^ The Tech Museum of Innovation (2011-11-02), The Tech Awards laureate 2011: Universal Subtitles, retrieved 2016-06-30
  22. ^ "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Joins Commissioner Michael Copps to Honor Innovators in Accessibility Communications Technologies". FCC (Press release). 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  23. ^ "AMARA (Universal Subtitles)". The Intercultural Innovation Award. Retrieved 2016-06-30.

External links[edit]