Amara has launched a free version of its crowdsourced captioning platform, allowing any YouTube user to invite their viewers to translate their content into different languages.

Channel owners simply visit Amara.org and connect their YouTube account from the homepage. All of the videos in your account are then added to Amara – along with any existing subtitles – and a link is then added in the video description, inviting viewers to subtitle your work.

Once the subtitles are finished, they’re then automatically sent from Amara back to YouTube, thereby updating the language options on any website where the video is embedded.

The original service was conceived to help both deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers watch video online. It’s a universal system for adding subtitles to online video, and works with all of the major video hosting sites including YouTube, Vimeo and Ustream.

Users simply copy the URL from their browser and paste it into the website, then type along with the video to add the necessary subtitles. There’s also an intuitive timing feature that lets you tap on the keyboard to synchronize the text with the audio.

Amaro 730x379 Amara launches a free version of its crowdsourced subtitling platform for YouTube users

Once you’re done, Amara then spits out at a standard embed code that can be used on any website. The trick here is that once it’s up on the Internet, there’s a drop-down box where users can select different language options. Here they can add new translations, improve existing ones or even download the entire subtitles for later.

Until now, Amara has been aimed mostly at large businesses looking to expand their global audience. To illustrate the point, Amara’s users include household name such as Netflix, Twitter, TED Talks, Khan Academy, Coursera and Udacity. Google even uses Amara’s Enterprise services to help build their own dedicated captioning communities, updating their members whenever a new video is posted online.

If Amara is to create a universally recognized subtitle and translation platform though, it’ll need video producers to spread the word. Opening up the service to YouTube users, for free, is a significant step towards making video content accessible to everyone.

We covered Amara back in May last year, when Mozilla and the Knight Foundation partnered to invest $1 million in the company. Previously known as Universal Subtitles, at that point it had already translated more than 170,000 videos, including President Obama’s message to Sudan and KONY 2012.

Image Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images