For background, see the introduction page of this resource Making Video and Audio Accessible, for:
- brief explanations of captions, transcripts, description, sign language, and media player accessibility
- user experiences to help you understand the “why” behind the requirements
What accessibility features you provide with your media will likely be influenced by:
- user needs
- governmental regulations and other policy requirements
- budget and time constraints
This 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:
- What is required in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standard at Level A, AA, and AAA. (WCAG is explained below.)
- What is needed to meet user needs, beyond WCAG. (If it doesn’t have any ‘A’, then it is not required in WCAG.)
The links below go to a web page in this resource with details on understanding and implementing each thing.
This section covers audio-only media, like podcasts that don’t have video.
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 for videos:
- are needed for most videos to be accessible to people who are “Deaf-blind”
- meet a wide range of accessibility needs, including for people who have difficulty processing auditory information and people who cannot focus and comprehend auditory or visual information when there is changing visuals
- are used by people without disabilities, and benefit your organization (examples are in the intro page under Benefits to Organizations and Individuals)
- are easy and inexpensive to develop using captions and description that you already have to meet Level AA
Captions and transcripts use the same text. Once you have one, it’s fairly easy to develop the other.
Translation of the audio into other languages can be provided:
- as text, using captions format (called subtitles or intralingual subtitles)
- as spoken audio, usually as a separate audio stream (for people who cannot read captions)
- as sign language
Include specific accessibility requirements in your:
- Project requirements - internal and external
- Requests for Proposal (RFP) or Requests for Tender (RFT)
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.
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:
- Description Considerations, Skills, and Tools
- Captions, Skills and Tools and Automatic Captions are Not Sufficient
- Transcripts, Process - Skills and Tools
- Media Players, Skills and Tools
- Sign Languages, Skills and Tools
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.
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:
- pre-recorded or live
- video with audio, video without audio (video-only), or audio-only
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|
|Video-only||A 1.2.1 (transcript or audio track)
|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)
|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:
- In this resource:
- In Understanding WCAG:
- 2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide (Level A) For moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating information, all of the following are true:…
- 1.4.2 Audio Control (Level A) If any audio on a Web page plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, either a mechanism is available to pause or stop the audio, or a mechanism is available to control audio volume…
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.Back to Top