Videos that present information only through sound or visuals are not accessible to all people. In compliance with AODA legislation, all public facing, pre-recorded video and audio only content must include captions and a transcript.

 Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017 indicates over 1.3 million or 5% of Canadians aged 15 years and over have a hearing disability. 40% of Canadians aged 15 to 44 years with a “more severe” hearing disability use closed captioning. 

Without closed captioning, many of those people would not be able to fully understand or appreciate your video. You’ll reach a wider audience. Closed captions aren’t just for people with hearing disabilities. If English isn’t someone’s first language, for example, seeing written text with the spoken language can be very helpful to understand it. Or, if viewers are in a setting where sound isn’t allowed, closed captions let them still view the video. This boosts audience usage and encourages viewers to continue engaging with the platform. For more information about the impact of captioning videos, see the Bureau of Internet Accessibility blog.

How to Fix

  • Provide a descriptive text title for each video.
  • Provide captions for all pre-recorded videos where the sound is synchronized with the visuals
  • Provide a descriptive text transcript for all pre-recorded videos (e.g. a silent movie)
  • Exceptions: If the video is a media alternative for text and clearly labelled as such, captions and a descriptive text transcript are not required. Note: A media alternative for text is provided for those who benefit from alternate representations of text. Media alternatives for text may be audio-only, video-only (including sign-language video), or audio-video.

Tips for Captions

  • Include all dialogue and the identity of who is speaking.
  • Include any non-speech information conveyed through sound (e.g. meaningful sound effects)
  • Speakers should be identified when more than one person is on-screen or when the speaker is not visible

Tips for Descriptive Transcripts

  • Include all dialogue and the identity of who is speaking.
  • Include any non-speech information conveyed through sound (e.g. meaningful sound effects)
  • Include any information that is required to tell the same story and present the same information as the video. 
  • Ensure the transcript identifies which person or character is associated with each described action
  • If providing a link to a descriptive text transcript, ensure that the link occurs immediately after the text alternative that identifies the time-based media content.

Things to Avoid

  • Do not rely solely on automated captions.
  • Do not skip identifying different speakers who may not appear on screen.
  • Do not omit any dialogue or important sounds.

Described Video

Accessible Media Inc. - Post Production Best Practices

  • Describe actions within a program as they happen.
  • Visuals should be accurately described and not be misleading.
  • Fill in the video blanks by describing visuals on the screen that aren't evident through dialogue or sound effects.
  • Place images in the minds of viewers. 
  • Provide a consistent style and flow by avoiding redundancy, step-by-step wording and repetition.
  • Constant description is not required.  Even if there is space to describe doesn't mean there is a need for description.
  • Stepping over dialogue or sounds or adding description after an action takes place may be required, but only when absolutely essential. 
  • Writing of description should follow guidelines of broadcast writing/writing for the ear. Description should be clear, concise, accurate, relevant, and written in the present active tense.
  • There may be keywords occurring in dialogue that are not descriptive and they might need description for them to make sense. (here, there, this & that)

External Resources

  1. Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Pre-recorded) (Level A)
  2. Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.2 Captions (Pre-recorded) (Level A)
  3. Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Pre-recorded) (Level A)
  4. Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.4 Captions (Live) (Level AA)
  5. Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.5 Audio Description (Pre-recorded) (Level AA)
  6. WebAIM: Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions
  7. AMI Accessible Media Inc. - Post Production Described Video Best Practices