University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Create accessible video and audio content

5 minute to read | Last updated January 27, 2021

Learn more about when and how to make video and audio content accessible with captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions.

Why make media content accessible?

Captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions help to make media content more accessible to students, employees, and members of the public and help to ensure that your content is compliant with the ADA. 

People use captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions to:

  • Better understand the content
  • Watch a video when audio is turned off to accommodate viewing in a public place.
  • Listen to video content when viewing media is not an option
  • Follow along as a non-native speaker
  • Pause and reread a statement without having to replay multiple times
  • Understand technical terms in context
  • Identify and understand visual elements in context

This video demonstrates the feeling of exclusion that people with disabilities might feel when encountering inaccessible content.

What's the difference between captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions?

Captions 

Text version of the audio content within a video, synchronized with the action on screen. Captions should be accurate, use correct punctuation, state in brackets who is speaking at the start of a new speaker, and indicate relevant ambient sound or emotional tone.

Transcripts 

Text version of media content, most commonly used for making audio content accessible. A transcript should capture all the spoken audio, plus background noise that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible without hearing the audio.

Audio Descriptions

Additional audio track that describes and gives context for essential visual information. They make videos and multimedia accessible to people who have low vision, or who are blind by capturing what is happening on screen.

When should I caption or transcribe my content?

Videos should have captions and audio files (like a podcast) should have transcripts of audio content. Doing so improves the usability of your content for a wide array of learners and contexts. Create captions for video and transcripts for audio for all public-facing media.

Student Disability-Related Accommodations

If you have a student who requests a disability-related accommodation, providing the student with the accommodation they request is required. Students with disabilities will let their instructors know what they need. For example, they may need video captioning, audio transcription, a sign language interpreter, or other alternative format options. If the student is working with the McBurney Disability Resource Center, the instructor will receive a McBurney Faculty Notification letter through the McBurney Connect App. McBurney staff will then contact the instructor to discuss accommodation needs and how to provide captioning or transcription for the student.

Contact the McBurney Disability Resources office if a student requests an accommodation and you need assistance.

How do I add captions, transcripts, or audio descriptions to content?

Live Events

If you are planning a live event or web conferencing meeting, see Live Captioning And Sign Language Interpreting

 

Pre-recorded Events

If you have a recording of an event or meeting that you need captioned or transcribed, see Post-Production Captions And Transcripts For Pre-Recorded Events

Get help with accessibility

Resources to get assistance with accessibility at UW-Madison.

Get help with accessibility