With the State of the Union speech coming up, Mozilla has launched an initiative opening up the speech, and its translation, to a worldwide audience.

Mozilla announced today, together with the Participatory Culture Foundation, its plan to crowdsource subtitles for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address taking place on January 24. The tools used to provide instant translation of the speech will allow users to transcribe and translate the speech into dozens of languages in a matter of hours.

The project is part of Mozilla’s partnership with PBS Newshour, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Participatory Culture Foundation which has been aptly named Open Election 2012. The partnership will bring online technology to election coverage, turning into a globally engaged affair.

obama Mozilla is going to crowdsource the translation of the State of the Union address

Universal Subtitles will be used to get the speech captioned, a service which will continue to be used throughout the election coverage, along with Mozilla Popcorn, an HTLM5 media tool which allows users to embed interactive information in online videos.

“From Chinese to Dutch, the speech translation is a true service to those for whom English is a second language and for those who are hard of hearing,” Hari Sreenivasan, correspondent and director of Digital Partnerships for PBS NEWSHOUR said. “This technology will make the candidates’ words accessible to several billion readers.”

This is not the first time the technology has been put to use, with the 2011 State of the Union Address captioned in 7 languages, while events following the death of Osama Bin Laden were reported and captioned in 15 languages.

We’re bound to see far more technology and social media coming into play in the run up to the 2012 elections. Google+ just announced a Hangout where you will be able to ask President Obama questions following the State of the Union address.