Understanding WCAG 2.0

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Audio Description (Prerecorded):
Understanding SC 1.2.5

1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded): Audio description is provided for all prerecorded video content in synchronized media. (Level AA)

Intent of this Success Criterion

The intent of this Success Criterion is to provide people who are blind or visually impaired access to the visual information in a synchronized media presentation. The audio description augments the audio portion of the presentation with the information needed when the video portion is not available. During existing pauses in dialogue, audio description provides information about actions, characters, scene changes, and on-screen text that are important and are not described or spoken in the main sound track.

Note 1: For 1.2.3, 1.2.5, and 1.2.7, if all of the information in the video track is already provided in the audio track, no audio description is necessary.

Note 2: 1.2.3, 1.2.5, and 1.2.8 overlap somewhat with each other. This is to give the author some choice at the minimum conformance level, and to provide additional requirements at higher levels. At Level A in Success Criterion 1.2.3, authors do have the choice of providing either an audio description or a full text alternative. If they wish to conform at Level AA, under Success Criterion 1.2.5 authors must provide an audio description - a requirement already met if they chose that alternative for 1.2.3, otherwise an additional requirement. At Level AAA under Success Criterion 1.2.8 they must provide an extended text description. This is an additional requirement if both 1.2.3 and 1.2.5 were met by providing an audio description only. If 1.2.3 was met, however, by providing a text description, and the 1.2.5 requirement for an audio description was met, then 1.2.8 does not add new requirements.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion 1.2.5:

  • People who are blind or have low vision as well as those with cognitive limitations who have difficulty interpreting visually what is happening benefit from audio description of visual information.

Examples of Success Criterion 1.2.5

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques and Failures for Success Criterion 1.2.5 - Audio Description (Prerecorded)

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Additional Techniques (Advisory) for 1.2.5

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

Common Failures for SC 1.2.5

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of Success Criterion 1.2.5 by the WCAG Working Group.

(No failures currently documented)

Key Terms

audio description

narration added to the soundtrack to describe important visual details that cannot be understood from the main soundtrack alone

Note 1: Audio description of video provides information about actions, characters, scene changes, on-screen text, and other visual content.

Note 2: In standard audio description, narration is added during existing pauses in dialogue. (See also extended audio description.)

Note 3: Where all of the video information is already provided in existing audio, no additional audio description is necessary.

Note 4: Also called "video description" and "descriptive narration."


information that is not live

synchronized media

audio or video synchronized with another format for presenting information and/or with time-based interactive components, unless the media is a media alternative for text that is clearly labeled as such


the technology of moving or sequenced pictures or images

Note: Video can be made up of animated or photographic images, or both.