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Accessible Media Content
What are captions?
- Captions are a text version of the speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the content. They are displayed within the media player and are synchronized with the audio.
Are captions the same as subtitles?
- Captions are the same language as the spoken audio.
Subtitles are spoken audio translated into another language.
- Subtitles are implemented the same way as captions. Subtitles/interlingual subtitles are usually only the spoken audio, intended for people who can hear the audio but do not know the spoken language.
- Captions are needed for accessibility. Subtitles in other languages are not directly an accessibility accommodation.
What is the difference between open and closed captions?
- Open captions always are in view and cannot be turned off. Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.
Why should I have captions?
- Captions are useful for 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.
- Without captions, users who are deaf or hard of hearing may not be able to consume and/or understand the audio content.
- 69% of consumers view video with sound off in public places, such as restaurants, libraries, and public transportation, and 25% watch video with sound off in private places. 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available. Statistics cited from forbes.com
What are transcripts?
- Basic transcripts are a text version of the speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the content.
- Descriptive transcripts also include text description of the visual information needed to understand the content, such as when people enter the room.
- Descriptive transcripts are required to provide video content to people who are both deaf and blind.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requires descriptive transcripts.
Why should we have transcripts for media content?
- Basic transcripts are used by people who are deaf, are hard of hearing, have difficulty processing auditory information, and others.
- Transcripts are necessary to convey all of the information being communicated by audio, including dialogue (and identifying speakers), narration, musical cues, and sound effects.
- Descriptive transcripts are also the only way that a person who is both deaf and blind can access video or audio content at all. Only digital text is accessible, because it can be converted into braille by a screen reader.
How are transcripts different from captions?
- Transcripts are usually a document and can be downloaded apart from the video. Captions are embedded within the video.
What are audio descriptions?
- Audio description, also referred to as a video description, described video, or more precisely called a visual description, is a form of narration used to provide information surrounding key visual elements in a media work for the benefit of blind and visually impaired consumers. It describes the scene, action, and other important information that can’t be conveyed through sound or dialog.
- Description often happens during pauses in dialog or other quiet moments.
Why should we have audio descriptions?
- Description provides content to people who are blind and others who cannot see the video adequately. It describes visual information needed to understand the content, including text displayed in the video.
- Description provides visual content to people who are using their devices in bright light or with poor resolution.
What if there are not ample pauses in the audio of our video content and we are unable to add a second audio track with descriptions?
- In this case, it is acceptable to provide an accompanying descriptive transcript including all visual information, instead of providing a synchronized audio description.
WCAG Standards for Pre-Recorded Media Content
|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)
WCAG Standards for Live Media Content
|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|
Tips and Tricks
- You may consider linking to the video on YouTube or Vimeo instead of providing it on your own site. Currently, a link to the video does not have the same ADA compliance/responsibility as hosting/embedding the video on your own site.
- You may upload your video to YouTube and create automated ‘craptions’ that can then be polished for accuracy. We call them ‘craptions’ because YouTube’s AI tends to produce ‘crappy’ captions, but these can be used as a great starting point. The ‘craptions’ can be manually cleaned for spelling and grammatical errors, then used as accurate captions.
- A video that has been automatically captioned in YouTube has a starter text transcript available. Below the YouTube video, select the kabob menu and select 'Show Transcript'. A Transcript panel will open to the right of the video. You may toggle timestamps off and on from inside the kabob menu. Copy and paste the automated transcripts into a text editor and clean up the dialog, add speaker identification and visual information descriptions.
- To quickly transcribe videos, open an MS Word Document and turn on Dictation. Then open the video with a local video player and hit Play. The dictation will pretty accurately transcribe the dialog and give you a great starter for a transcript. Just clean up the dialog, add speaker identification and visual information descriptions.
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