W3C

Multimedia Accessibility FAQ

W3C's internal multimedia accessibility policy is in place to ensure that W3C's work is accessible to all, including people with disabilities who cannot hear audio or see video, and to ensure that it meets W3C's own standards, including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

W3C Policy: All multimedia (audio or video) produced or published by W3C must be accessible at time of posting.

Multimedia accessibility is easier than you might think. Don't be afraid. For most W3C media, you just need to provide a simple text transcript. Transcripts are relatively cheap and easy. There are strong additional benefits to providing transcripts.

Note that for audio-only recordings, providing a transcript is sufficient to meet all of the relevant WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria under Guideline 1.2 Time-based Media.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on making W3C multimedia accessible

  1. What do I need to do to make audio and video accessible?
  2. Can I put it online and have the community transcribe it, e.g., via wiki?
  3. How do I get a transcript for my media?
  4. How do I do audio description of visuals?
  5. How do I do captions?
  6. What about media posted elsewhere, such as YouTube?
  7. What about media that someone else does?
  8. What about a conference presentation?
  9. Are there exceptions?
  10. Where can I get more info?

Resources and links are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied. Send updates to site-comments@w3.org with Subject: Multimedia Accessibility FAQ update.

Q1. What do I need to do to make audio and video accessible?

WCAG - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

For details and resources, see the following WCAG 2.0 material:

Q2. Can I put it online and have the community transcribe it, e.g., via wiki?

No. All media must be accessible when published. It is not acceptable to post a video now and the transcript later. (as that would be discriminating against people who are deaf)

It is acceptable to post a complete transcript for more cleanup, for example, posting the transcript of a teleconference and asking Working Group participants to make sure that what was said is accurately transcribed.

An exception would be if you have someone committed to do the transcript the next day and it's easiest if you put the video online for them to access it — that would be OK provided you don't announce it at all until the transcript is available. However, even this is risky, because someone could have it set to notify them when a new video is uploaded by a certain person or with certain keywords.

Q3. How do I get a transcript for my media?

You can just type it up yourself or ask a volunteer to type it up.

There are several services that make transcripts of audio and video files, for a fee that varies by turnaround time and quality. They provide multiple formats, many offer HTML. It's as simple as sending them the media file, or pointing to it online.

Once you have the transcript, make sure it's linked to from the same places the media file is linked to, including web pages and e-mails.

example transcript for presentation
example transcript for podcast

Transcription resources

Resources and links are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied. Send updates to site-comments@w3.org with Subject: Multimedia Accessibility FAQ update.

Q4. How do I do audio description of visuals?

Remember that most W3C video won't need audio description. For example, you do not need audio description for talking heads only, or for text on slides as long as the slide text is woven into what you say. You might need audio description of things like charts and diagrams. (For guidance, see Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books.)

How you provide audio description depends on the situation. For things like a title slide, you should put it in the main audio track (example). In a presentation that is all about visuals, e.g., a video showing how to replace batteries, it would be quite tedious for a sighted user to listen to audio description; therefore, you might have a separate track or file with the synchronized audio description. You could additionally provide a text file (HTML page) that combines the transcript with the audio descriptions for people who would prefer to skim it quickly, listen to it with a screen reader, etc.

Tip: If you plan a presentation a little before you record it, you can usually weave the audio description of key visuals smoothly with your main talk, and not have to go back later and add anything. For example, instead of pointing to a slide and saying, "as you can see on this slide, the traffic peaked here", you can say "this chart of website traffic for the last year shows that it peaked in August." (More tips under "Best practices for the audio" in Transcripts on the Web.)

example audio description of text in video
example audio description of action in video
example transcript with description of visuals

Q5. How do I do captions?

Including captions in a video is more complicated than a simple transcript. You can use software such as MAGpie; or tools provided with online services such as dotSUB or YouTube; or hire someone to do it. See also:

Note that when you provide captions, it's good to also provide the transcript, so that you and your users can realize the additional benefits of transcripts.

example video with captions

Captioning services

Resources and links are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied. Send updates to site-comments@w3.org with Subject: Multimedia Accessibility FAQ update.

Captioning tools

Resources and links are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied. Send updates to site-comments@w3.org with Subject: Multimedia Accessibility FAQ update.

Q6. What about media posted elsewhere, such as YouTube?

Yup, it's covered by this policy and must be accessible.

You can post media in places that do not support accessibility as long as it includes a link to the accessible version:

Q7. What about media that someone else does?

All multimedia of W3C's work, even if produced or published by others, should be accessible; for example: a W3C Working Group member posts an audio recording of a teleconference or a video of a face-to-face meeting, a podcaster interviews W3C staff, or an Interest Group provides training materials.

If W3C Staff is asked to participate in multimedia to be posted online, e.g., an interview, you should require that it be made accessible, or at least strongly encourage it. (In some cases W3C might be willing to help with making it accessible, for example, posting the transcript on our website.)

Q8. What about a conference presentation?

If you prepare a video to be shown at a conference where there are mostly live speakers, you probably don't have to have captions for accessibility because whatever method is being provided for accessibility of the live speakers should work for your video as well (e.g., sign language interpreter, real-time transcription).

However, if it will be available other than at the conference, e.g., online afterwards, then the above answers apply and you should make it accessible yourself or require that the conference make it accessible.

Q9. Are there exceptions?

Of course there are exceptions to some of these specific points. Any exception needs approval. WAI staff (wai@w3.org) are happy to help evaluate what is an acceptable exception from an accessibility perspective.

Q10. Where can I get more info?

Resources and links are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied. Send updates to site-comments@w3.org with Subject: Multimedia Accessibility FAQ update.

Please send any comments on this FAQ to wai@w3.org.