University of Wisconsin–Madison

Create accessible video and audio content

  • 3 minutes to read
  • Last updated February 2, 2016


Captions are text versions of the audio content, synchronized with the video. They are essential for ensuring your video is accessible to students, employees, and members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also help non-native English speakers to understand the video, make it possible to search for content within the video, help all students learn the spelling of technical terms spoken in the video, and make it possible to generate an interactive transcript where users can click anywhere in the transcript to watch the video where that text is spoken.

There are two general approaches to captioning video:

  • Do it yourself.  There are free tools available online that make it possible and easy to caption your own video. See Captioning your own video for free from the University of Washington for additional information.

Once you have a caption file, the final step is to add this file to your video. How you do this, and the types of caption file supported, depends on where your video is hosted. For specific instructions, select one of the following options:


A transcript is a text version of the 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.

Transcripts make audio content accessible to everyone, including people who are unable to listen to audio or watch video content due to accessibility problems or technical limitations. They are also helpful for people who want to quickly scan or search for content but do not have the time to listen to or watch the content in its entirety.To make the transcript available simply link to it from your web page, wherever you link to or display the associated media.

Choosing an accessible media player

When choosing how to deliver your video, it is important to consider options that are fully accessible. Whether you are selecting a media player plugin or module for your website or selecting a service to host your videos, the following questions should be answered about the available options:

  1. Does the media player support closed captions?
  2. Does the media player support audio description in a way that enables users to toggle the narration on and off?
  3. Can the media player’s buttons and controls be operated without a mouse?
  4. Are the media player’s buttons and controls properly labeled so they can be operated by a blind person using a screen reader?
  5. Is the media player fully functional, including all of its accessibility features, across platforms and in all major browsers?

Get help

The Center for Digital Accessibility & User Experience can help answer questions you may have about creating accessible technology and content, or connect you with the right group.

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Related Guides

Credit: Much of the content in this and other accessibility guides was provided by the University of Washington’s terrific Accessible Technology website.