Becoming Accessible With Captions and Transcripts

Captioning and providing transcripts for multimedia content is a common way to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing web users. But not only do we need to keep our text and image content accessible; we also need to keep in mind our video and audio content as well.

Although adding captions and transcripts is mainly used for those who can't hear the audio or see the video, it's also helpful for all users as a better way to follow along with the content, especially for those whose primary language may not be English.

Common web accessibility guidelines indicate that captions should be:

  • Synchronized
    The text content should appear at about the same time that audio is available.
  • Equivalent
    Content provided in captions should be equivalent to that of the spoken word.
  • Accessible
    Caption content should be readily accessible and available to those who need it.

Transcripts are a little different from captions in that they provide a written version of the content and allow anyone who can't access the audio or video to read a text description instead. Transcripts don't have to be exactly the same as the spoken content, but it should contain descriptions, explanations, or comments that may help the user, such as laughter or external noises.

Transcripts allow deaf and blind users to understand the content through the use of refreshable Braille and screen readers, and also allow users with cognitive disabilities to take the time they need to read and understand the content of the audio and/or video.

Providing transcripts for your multimedia content also improves SEO by making your video and audio content searchable by search engines and users, and screen reader users may also prefer the efficiency of the transcript over listening to the full audio of the web content.

For most web video, both captions and transcripts should be provided for full accessibility. For content that is audio only, a transcript will usually suffice.

Adding captions and transcripts to your video and audio files can be easy. Amara and DotSub are two popular online tools that allow you to caption and transcribe your video and audio content for free. YouTube also has services providing both captioning and transcripts for your multimedia content. And our accessibility partners, AMAC, also provide services for captioning and transcribing multimedia content.

Accessibility is all about creating content that all users can access and gain information from. With awareness and consistency, we can help make all of our website content available equally to all Georgians.

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