Provide alternatives for live audio

When broadcasting live audio-only content, such as a live podcast or radio stream, some users will rely on an alternative to the audio to understand your content.

What to do

  • Add closed captions to live audio; or
  • If the live broadcast is from a prepared script, make the script text available from near the original content.

Tips

  • To add live captions to an audio broadcast you will need professional software.
  • You may also want to hire a professional subtitler to get the best results.

See also

Broken television

Provide a text alternative to your videos

While you may have produced captions or audio description to enhance your videos, some users will rely on a text alternative to get the information. Providing a full text transcript of a video, including links to any calls to action, can help make it more accessible.

What to do

  • Provide a full text transcript for your video and link to it from near the original content.
  • If the video needs audio description, make sure that is also in place.

Tips

  • You may have fulfilled this Guideline if you chose to meet Guideline 1.2.3 with a text transcript and then fulfilled Guideline 1.2.5 with audio description.
  • A good transcript contains all information in the video, such as visual cues, description and dialogue attribution.

Exceptions

If the video is itself an alternative, you don’t need to add a transcript.

See also

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Drawing of a cassette

Provide extended audio description for videos

Your users who value audio description need to receive the same information that other users get from your video. Extended audio description can help where your video conveys large amounts of information without enough pauses in the regular soundtrack for audio description to work. Extended audio description is simply pausing the video to give a narrator enough time to convey the information in the video.

What to do

Make an alternative version of your video with an extended audio description soundtrack and link to it from near the original content.

Tips

  • Hire a video editor to get the timings right and synchronise the audio and video.
  • If you chose to use audio description to fulfil Guideline 1.2.3, you may have already satisfied this guideline.

Exceptions

  • No audio description is needed if all of the information in the video is provided in the regular soundtrack. Something like a straight face-to-face interview, or a speech to-camera would probably not need audio description.
  • You don’t need extended audio description if regular audio description can provide all of the information in the video.

See also

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Sign language

Provide sign language translations for videos

Some of your users will want to view sign language interpretations of your videos. Adding this feature offers those users the same information as others.

What to do

Make an alternative version of your video with a sign language interpreter embedded and link to it from near the original content.

See also

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Mixing deck

Users have access to audio description for video content

Some of your users will rely on audio description to help with videos. Adding audio description to your videos means these users have the same information as everyone else.

What to do

Make an alternative version of your video with an audio description soundtrack and link to it from near the original content.

Tips

If you have provided audio description for videos to meet Guideline 1.2.3, you have already fulfilled this guideline.

Your audio description version must include everything that might be lost to a visually impaired user – things like:

  • Relevant exposition (location, gestures, lighting, colours).
  • Identifying new speakers.
  • Marking the passing of time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. The key is to think about what information the video provides and ensure a user with a visual impairment gets the same information.

Remember to use clear words, use the present tense and keep in sync with the video.

Exceptions

You don’t need an audio description if all of the information in the video is provided in the regular soundtrack. Something like a straight face-to-face interview, or a speech to-camera would probably not need audio description.

See also

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Live streaming

Live videos have captions

Your users sometimes rely on captions to enjoy your video content. Adding captions to live videos helps people use your website when you’re streaming live video.

What to do

Use a content management system that allows captions to be added live and probably a professional subtitler to do it for you.

Tips

Live video is mainly used by large broadcasting companies, but you might want to provide a live stream of a seminar for people who can’t physically attend, or perhaps you’re working for a University and need to put graduation ceremonies online.

Exceptions

If the video is an alternative for text.

See also

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Record player

Video with audio has a second alternative

An audio description is an edited version of a video’s soundtrack that adds more information than the regular soundtrack offers. This might mean narrating movements that are not audibly explained in the video, or adding context to visual information.

The need for audio description isn’t always clear to website owners, yet it is among the most used accessibility feature in the real world. Many cinemas have audio described screenings, where film fans can use earphones that offer a different soundtrack to the regular feature. That soundtrack will be the regular one supplemented with extra information intended to help film lovers with visual impairments.

To meet this guideline, it’s easier to provide users with a text transcript instead of audio description. However, the either/or option only covers Level A. To reach Level AA you would need to offer audio description. For Level AAA you need both audio description and text transcript.

What to do

  • Provide a full text transcript of the video; or
  • Provide a version of the video with audio description .

Tips

A full text transcript is a document that includes all information present in the audio or video source. This means including any visual cues (for example, ‘The fisherman holds up a large bass.’) as well as dialogue attribution and description.

Providing audio description at this stage will fulfil Guideline 1.2.5 at Level AA but you will need both audio description and a transcript for Guideline 1.2.8 at Level AAA.

If you’re going to the length of audio description for this guideline, you can also satisfy Guideline 1.2.5 and Guideline 1.2.7 by recording extended audio description tracks wherever necessary.

Something like a straight face-to-face interview, or a speech-to-camera would probably not need audio description. If your video conveys all its information through sound, an audio description track is not needed. If you have this in your mind when you create videos, you can easily sidestep what could be a lengthy process.

If you do need to add audio description, there are a number of options available to you. You can pay a firm to narrate an alternative soundtrack for you, or you can do it yourself. As usual, it’s a case of balancing your resources of time and money.

Here’s a fun cartoon with audio description, it’s a little too talky but should point you in the right direction:

Exceptions

  • If the video is itself an alternative.
  • You don’t need an audio description if all of the information in the video is provided in the regular soundtrack.

See also

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Captions

Provide captions for videos with audio

Closed captioning is perhaps the most well known tool for people with disabilities. Often known as subtitles, or abbreviated as CC, closed captions have been around since the 1970s.13
Multimedia is becoming more and more popular as the average home gets faster and faster internet access. Videos are cropping up everywhere, from news websites to product pages. One of the most visited websites in the world, YouTube, is specifically for online videos. As website owners turn to video, you must think of how users process your multimedia content.

What to do

Add captions to all videos with sound.

Tips

Adding captions to a video is a relatively hard task, compared to something like writing a text transcript or providing alternative text. Captions must be synchronised with the video to be useful, which means marking up the plain text with timestamps.

There are plenty of paid services out there that will do your closed captioning for you, often at reasonable rates. There are also many free programs that will attempt to create your caption file for you, but none as good as human eyes and ears just yet. Like with many areas of web accessibility, your choice is between spending time (writing your own captions) or money (outsourcing).

Google has written a very clear how-to guide on adding captions to YouTube videos, which I’m not going to try and better.

See also

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Provide an alternative to video-only and audio-only content

Some users will find it difficult to use or understand things like podcasts and silent videos or animations.

What to do

  • Write text transcripts for any audio-only media;
  • Write text transcripts for any video-only media; or
  • Record an audio-track for any video-only media;
  • Place the text transcript, or link to it, close to the media.

Tips

Audio-only and video-only content needs to be supported by text transcripts that convey the same information as the media. Sometimes this is quite simple, other times you have to make a judgement call on what that really means. The best bet is, as always, to be honest with your customers: what does the media convey and does your transcript do the same? Could you swap one for the other?

One of the most common uses for text transcripts is when a podcast is published online. Embedding a podcast in a page is a great way of sharing your content but no good for your customers with hearing impairments. A text transcript should contain everything mentioned in the recording.

Less commonly, some videos do not have sound. Your customers with visual impairments need help with this kind of content. A text transcript for a video without sound should describe what is going on in the video as clearly as possible. Try to focus on what the video is trying to say rather than getting bogged down with detail.

As an alternative for video-only content, you could also choose to record an audio track that narrates the video.

For both audio-only and video-only, create your text transcript and place it either directly beneath the content or insert a link next to the content.

Exceptions

If the content is itself an alternative (you don’t have to provide a transcript of the audio track you provided to explain the silent video you used).

See also