Accessibility: Captioning Video and Providing Transcripts

A Few Helpful Tips for Captioning & Transcribing

Man sitting at computer with video transcription headset on. Pearl logo. I do almost everything on the web. From shopping to all my work-related tasks. After surfing the web recently, I noticed using video, podcasts and other forms of audio are popular as a means of communicating information. Some websites were great, and I would certainly visit them again. I enjoyed that they took the time to make their videos accessible. Others, sadly, did not. Thinking perhaps that more information is needed, I am providing a few tips for use and thought.

To make a video compliant under the Americans With Disabilities act, there are specific areas which MUST be addressed.


Captioning is important. It provides a way to follow along with whatever is happening in the video. Having captioned content is a good way for anyone to follow along with a video or presentation. Not only for people with a hearing impairment. It’s also good for people who may be viewing television or video in a crowded waiting room or noisy area. Many companies also like to have transcripts available for future viewing. Did a team member miss a meeting? No problem! We have transcripts available for review.

Audio Descriptions

An audio description is different from a captioned video. It provides a description of the whole video not just the dialogue that is spoken. An audio description could also include an explanation of what is going on in the background of the video. For example: A fire fighter training video could be captioned when a firefighter is verbally explaining what he is doing with a piece of equipment. In this scenario, an audio description may contain more detailed verbiage such as: “the firefighter is demonstrating how to use an axe while he is working on a controlled burning building.” Alternate text or just a transcript is not going to be in 508 compliance. Audio descriptions are generally delivered in a separate audio track that can be played alongside a video.

A Compliant Video Player

This is necessary because people who use keyboard navigation or assistive devices need a way to navigate the video. This should be built into the player that is being used. This is also a very important point to remember when offering video or audio. Having a way to “stop” “rewind” or “forward” is very helpful. Developers are working on audio/video sites constantly, but it is best to ask questions and check for the proper elements.

Recently, I was asked a question regarding YouTube videos and if they were compliant. The simple answer is NO. Don’t take this wrong, YouTube is good for what it is, but as of the writing of this article, to the best of my knowledge it does not support additional audio tracks as I mentioned above in audio descriptions. There is a way around this by using a different video player, that does support the audio descriptions or alternately post two versions of the video. To save yourself a lot of time and stress, the wisest choice would be to consult a professional from the start.

Stay tuned for more informative articles in our accessibility series.

To learn more visit our website or contact the author, Dee Moradi directly at – she is happy to offer you FREE consultation!

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