Media Best Practices

Welcome to our Media Best Practices Guide, a comprehensive resource crafted to ensure that your audio and video content is not only usable and accessible but also fully conformant to WCAG guidelines. At Zenyth, we are passionate about sharing our knowledge and empowering creators. We hope you find this guide invaluable as you strive to make your media accessible to all users, enhancing everyone's experience and engagement with your content.

WCAG 2.0 2.1 2.2, AA | Best Practices

What are captions?

Captions are a text version of the speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the content. They are displayed within the media player and are synchronized with the audio.

Are captions the same as subtitles?

Captions are in the same language as the spoken audio.

Subtitles are spoken audio translated into another language and implemented similarly to captions. They are usually intended for those who can hear the audio but don't understand the language.

Captions are necessary for accessibility, while subtitles in other languages aren't directly an accessibility accommodation.

Open vs. Closed Captions

Open captions are always visible and cannot be turned off.

Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.

Why should I have captions?

Captions allow those who are hard of hearing to read the captions to understand the audio.

Without captions, those who are deaf or hard of hearing may not comprehend the audio content.

Statistics: 69% of consumers view videos with sound off in public spaces, and 25% watch videos with sound off in private spaces. 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available (source: Forbes).

What are transcripts?

Basic transcripts: Text versions of the speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the content.

Descriptive transcripts: Include text descriptions of visual information like people entering a room. They are required for providing video content to people who are both deaf and blind.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) require descriptive transcripts.

Why should we have transcripts for media content?

Basic transcripts are used by people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have difficulty processing auditory information.

Transcripts convey information like dialogue, narration, musical cues, and sound effects.

Descriptive transcripts are the only way people who are both deaf and blind can access video or audio content.

How are transcripts different from captions?

Transcripts are usually a downloadable document separate from the video.

Captions are embedded within the video.

What are audio descriptions?

Audio descriptions, or visual descriptions, are narration used to describe key visual elements in a media work for blind and visually impaired consumers. They describe the scene, action, and other important information not conveyed through sound or dialog. Descriptions often happen during pauses in dialogue.

Why should we have audio descriptions?

Descriptions provide necessary content to people who are blind or those who cannot see the video adequately.

They describe visual content needed to understand the video, including displayed text.

Descriptions also benefit people using devices in bright light or with poor resolution.

What if ample pauses for audio descriptions are lacking in the video content?

In this case, it's acceptable to provide a descriptive transcript including all visual information instead of a synchronized audio description.

WCAG Standards for Pre-Recorded Media Content

Transcript (including auditory and visual content) Captions Audio Description (if visual content not in audio) Sign Language
Audio-only A 1.2.1      
Video-only A 1.2.1 (transcript or audio track)
AAA 1.2.8
  A 1.2.1 (audio track or transcript)  
Video with Audio AAA 1.2.8 A 1.2.2 A 1.2.3 (audio description or transcript)
AA 1.2.5
AAA 1.2.7
AAA 1.2.6

WCAG Standards for Live Media Content

Transcript Captions Audio Description Sign Language
Audio-only AAA 1.2.9 (live stream or accurate transcript when live)      
Video with Audio   AA 1.2.4    

Media Tips and Tricks

  1. You may consider linking to the video on YouTube or Vimeo instead of providing it on your own site. Currently, a link to the video does not have the same ADA compliance/responsibility as hosting/embedding the video on your own site.
  2. You may upload your video to YouTube and create automated 'craptions' that can then be polished for accuracy. We call them 'craptions' because YouTube's AI tends to produce 'crappy' captions, but these can be used as a great starting point. The 'craptions' can be manually cleaned for spelling and grammatical errors, then used as accurate captions.
  3. A video that has been automatically captioned in YouTube has a starter text transcript available. Below the YouTube video, select the kabob menu and select 'Show Transcript.' A Transcript panel will open to the right of the video. You may toggle timestamps off and on from inside the kabob menu. Copy and paste the automated transcripts into a text editor and clean up the dialog, add speaker identification and visual information descriptions.
  4. To quickly transcribe videos, open an MS Word Document and turn on Dictation. Then open the video with a local video player and hit Play. The dictation will accurately transcribe the dialog and give you a great starter for a transcript. Just clean up the dialog, add speaker identification, and visual information descriptions.

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