Planning Audio and Video Media

in Making Audio and Video Media Accessible


What accessibility features you provide with your media will likely be influenced by:

This multi-page resource endeavors to help you know the requirements and encourages you to meet all user needs.

Checklists for Audio and Video

The checklists below cover audio-only content and video content, and pre-recorded and live. They include:

The links below go to a web page in this resource with details on understanding and implementing each thing.

Audio-only Checklists

This section covers audio-only media, like podcasts that don’t have video.

Video Checklists

Inform Users When Not Needed

If your video does not need captions (because there is no substantive audio content) or does not need description (because there is no substantive visual content), it’s good to let users know that. Otherwise, they might think that you accidentally forgot to provide it.

Users who need captions will look there, so you can provide a captions file with only the appropriate indication, such as “[background music]”. Or you can provide the information in text with the video, such as:

Provide Both Captions and a Transcript

It is best to provide captions and a separate transcript.

For videos, captions enable people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to see the visual content and read the captions at the same time.

For audio-only, captions enable people who are hard of hearing to get the richness of listening to the audio and fill in what they don’t hear well by reading the captions.

Transcripts are needed to provide access to people who are Deaf-blind and use braille. Also, transcripts are used by people without disabilities, as listed in the intro page of this resource under Benefits to Organizations and Individuals.

Descriptive Transcripts

Descriptive transcripts for videos:

Captions and transcripts use the same text. Once you have one, it’s fairly easy to develop the other.

Other Languages

Translation of the audio into other languages can be provided:

Project Management

Include specific accessibility requirements in your:

Here is an example workflow for developing an accessible video, with notes on who develops the material. Links go to other pages in this resource.

Resourcing Accessibility

To help you plan in-house and outsourced work, the pages of this resource include considerations, skills, and tools needed for creating accessible media in these sections:

When planning and budgeting for accessible media, it is often helpful to communicate the benefits to organizations, such as search engine optimization (SEO), better user experience for all, improved customer satisfaction, and more listed in the intro page under Benefits to Organizations and Individuals.

WCAG Standard

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is introduced in a separate resource: WCAG Overview.

WCAG includes requirements for audio and video media at Level A, AA, and AAA. (More info in a separate resource: Understanding Levels of Conformance.) Most media is required by governing policies to meet Level AA — which includes both A and AA listed in the tables below.

Accessibility requirements for video and audio are different based on if they are:

The links in the tables below go to a page in a separate resource: Understanding WCAG 2.1.


  Transcript (including auditory and visual content) Captions Audio Description (if visual content not in audio) Sign Language
Audio-only A 1.2.1      
Video-only A 1.2.1 (transcript or audio track)
AAA 1.2.8
  A 1.2.1 (audio track or transcript)  
Video with Audio AAA 1.2.8 A 1.2.2 A 1.2.3 (audio description or transcript)
AA 1.2.5
AAA 1.2.7
AAA 1.2.6


  Transcript Captions Audio Description Sign Language
Audio-only AAA 1.2.9 (live stream or accurate transcript when live)      
Video with Audio   AA 1.2.4    

More about Standards

To learn more about WCAG requirements for media, see Understanding Guideline 1.2: Time-based Media.

Other WCAG requirements related to audio and video include:

Your audio and video may be subject to additional requirements, for example under governmental regulations. Some of these are listed in Web Accessibility Laws & Policies.

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