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Captions & Audio Descriptions

Recommended Reading for Media Accessibility

Video and media content offer a powerful medium by which to share ideas and educate and inform people. Addressing the accessibility of video and other media requires attention to both the content itself as well as how the video and media is delivered to the end-user. It is possible to have a very accessible video presentation, but it may be delivered in such a manner that the controls are not accessible or usable by an individual.


Accessibility for video and audio presentations can be supported by including captions and audio descriptions for video and providing a text transcript for audio. Captions are the synchronized text equivalent of audio content from a video, film, television broadcast, live event, etc. Further, captions provide the same information in a text format that is provided through the audio presentation, including speaker identification and sound effects.

The Captioning Key from the Described and Captioned Media Program provides specific guidance for how to caption video presentations:

Transcripts provide individuals who cannot access the video or audio information an opportunity to still engage with the content. Transcripts may be provided for video content, but must be provided for audio-only presentations. Transcripts should include speaker information as well as other informational cues.

Distance Education Captioning and Transcription Program

The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) program represents a commitment by the California Community Colleges to expand access to distance education to all students. Further, DECT provides a means for colleges to promote faculty innovation in the use of audio, video, and multi-media content in distance learning classes.

The system's substantial support for DECT is also a recognition that distance learning is the fastest growing segment of CCC enrollment. Funding has been authorized by the CCC Chancellor's Office to aid California Community Colleges in improving their capacity to serve disabled student populations and, in some instances, the general public, by ensuring the accessibility of audio/video information.

See the DECT website to find a list of pre-approved vendors of Delayed/Asynchronous Captioning and Transcription and Live Captioning.


Audio Descriptions

Audio descriptions are intended to provide blind and visually-impaired users with additional information as to what may be happening on-screen. For instance, a video presentation may include identified speakers or on-screen instructions. If this information is not communicated through the regular audio track, then it is necessary to include this information as an audio description, including directional cues and other on-screen information.

The Description Key from the Described and Captioned Media Program provides specific guidance for how to produce audio descriptions, including what to describe and how to describe on-screen information:


Player Accessibility

Media players are available in a variety of plugins and skins that support the playback of media content on Web pages. Accessibility considerations for media players include:

  • Keyboard access to player controls
  • Labels or names for player controls
  • Ability to navigate into and out of the media player via keyboard
  • Support for captioning and audio description

Two accessible media players to consider for use on your websites are the Oz Player and Able Player. Both media players offer support for different media formats as well as content delivered from YouTube and/or Vimeo. Additionally, if captions are included in the original YouTube video, then these players can include that information as they stream the video media.