Including captions and audio descriptions in multimedia is crucial when making accessible content. WeCo's Accessibility Team explains what captions and audio descriptions are and when to use them, referencing related WCAG criteria along the way.
Are you trying to make sure your videos are accessible to all users, but aren’t sure exactly what’s needed? In this article, we’ll discuss captions and audio descriptions. We’ll cover what they are, who they benefit, and when they should be used.
Captions are a text version of the audio content in a video, and they include speech and any meaningful sound effects. They are displayed on top of the video and make the video accessible to those who can’t hear all of the audio.
Captions must be provided for both live and prerecorded video with audio and may be provided for live audio only content.
- Once you create captions, review them to ensure that they sync correctly with the video, do not contain any typos, etc.
- Do not rely solely on automated captioning services, such as YouTube’s automatically generated captions, as these are often not accurate.
- Ensure that a captioning service will be present to provide captioning for all real-time presentations.
Related Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Success Criteria
- 2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A)
- 2.4 Captions (Live) (Level AA)
Audio description is when a narrator verbally describes what is happening visually in a video. They can fit into the main video itself (during pauses in the dialog), provided as a separate audio track, or present in an alternate version of the main video that includes the audio description. Audio descriptions allow users who can’t see all of the visual content to know what is happening in a video.
Audio description must be provided for prerecorded video content (whether video only or video with audio) and may be provided for live video content (both video only and video with audio).
- Provide audio description for prerecorded videos if it contains relevant visual content not presented in the audio track.
- Review the final audio description to ensure that it syncs correctly with the video, describes all visual aspects correctly, etc.
- If the video includes captions, caption the audio description and ensure it still syncs up correctly with the video.
Related WCAG Success Criteria
- 2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) (Level A)
- 2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) (Level AA)
Learn More about Captions, Audio Descriptions, and Multimedia Accessibility
Read our blog post Audio Accessibility and Equal Access
Check out the full list of WCAG 2.1 Success Criterion