Accessibility in Video

Some people use captions in videos for convenience’s sake. Others rely on them to understand the video. You might not realize how captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions are used by people with disabilities, and how often they are used in general. They can be used by:

  • deaf/hearing loss individuals, to read a transcript or captions of the audio of a video
  • blind/vision loss individuals, to hear audio descriptions of the visuals
  • individuals with processing disorders, to read transcripts at their own pace
  • individuals in loud or quiet places, to read captions instead of using audio
  • individuals who are learning English, to read English captions while hearing the audio

It’s always a good idea to make your video accessible. There are a couple different ways you can do this.


What Types of Accessibility Options Can You Provide?

A transcript is a text outline of your video. It has all of the dialogue or voiceover written out, as well as descriptions of the sound effects and the visuals. Everything is written out in this document, and uploaded as an HTML or TXT file.

An audio description turns the visuals into audio or text, basically. They describe what the visuals are showing. An example would be, “Business owner unlocks door to office.” This can be done by recording a voiceover or typing them into a document.

You’re probably familiar with captions. They are like a transcript, but are synced to the audio. Meaning, the words come on screen when they are being said. These also include sound effects or actions, such as clapping. Ever wondered why some are called “closed captions”? Closed captions can be enabled or disabled. Open captions are always enabled.

What do you need? In general (but not always):

  • a transcript is needed for audio
  • an audio description is needed for video
  • a transcript, an audio description, and captions are needed for video with audio


Some Things to Keep in Mind

The media player that you are using to show your video might not give easy accessibility to everyone. People using screen readers, speech interface, zoomed larger websites, or working without a mouse–these all need to be accounted for. Some media players are more accessible than others. On some of them, you can see interactive transcripts, change the speed, and add other helpful options.

If a video on your website auto-plays with the audio, people using screen readers may find it hard to navigate to the pause or mute icon. It’s better to not auto-play videos that have audio.

For more information about video check out our other blog posts here: