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This page describes accessibility issues related to video, audio and multimedia with integrated video and audio. Please see the links on this page for information about policy and guidelines as well as examples of a captioned video and transcribed audio.

Benefits to Multiple Audiences

Captions are mandated primarily for Deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, but captions benefit multiple audiences including:

  • Non-native speakers
  • When vocabulary is unfamiliar
  • When the speaker is using an unfamiliar dialect
  • When audio is not clear or audio is not available. This last includes instances when audio quality is poor and instances when a person cannot listen to audio because of their work or study environment.

According to one study in the U.K., up to 80% of viewers using captions are not considered Deaf or hard of hearing. If you are wondering if many people can benefit from captions consider many people benefit from captions in a crowded airport or sports bar.

Penn State Policy

Below are links to relevant Penn State policy on captions.

Because Policy A.D. 69 mandates compliance with WCAG 2.0 content for all content relating to Penn State functions, the ones relevant to audio and video are repeated below.

WCAG 2.0 Guidelines for Audio and Video

  1. If you use audio files on your Web page, a text transcript or other text-based material should be provided.
    WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.1—"An alternative for time-based media is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded audio-only content."
  2. If video files are used, captions or a synchronized text transcript should be provided.
    NOTE: Captions also benefit non-native speakers, users with audio disabled or viewers watching a video with poor quality audio.
    WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.2—"Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such."
  3. Video files should be embedded or displayed in a player that can be accessed by a screen reader via keyboard commands.Accessible players include QuickTime, RealPlayer, iTunes and YouTube
    WCAG 2.0 Guideline 2.1—"Make all functionality available from a keyboard."
  4. Videos that include visual information critical to comprehension should include a description of images or events for visually impaired audiences. For example, a screencast of a software product should name the buttons and commands being used, not just say "click here".
    WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.3—An alternative for time-based media or audio description of the prerecorded video content is provided for synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such.
  5. A lengthy piece of audio or video should not be played by default or play in an endless loop when viewing a page. Instead, the user should be able to click the play button to start the file. This provision allows users with certain cognitive, reading or motion disorders to process other content on the page as needed before viewing the content. This also prevents audio from interfering with screenreader audio.
    WCAG 2.0 Guideline 2.2.2—Moving, blinking, scrolling: For any moving, blinking or scrolling information that (1) starts automatically, (2) lasts more than five seconds, and (3) is presented in parallel with other content, there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, or hide it unless the movement, blinking, or scrolling is part of an activity where it is essential.
  6. Any text displayed in a video (e.g. titles, captions) should comply with color contrast guidelines.

Accessible Audio/Video Examples

Audio Transcript Example

The following paragraph includes a link to a podcast and also to its transcript as a separate link.

Podcast on Knowledge Commons

Podcast Audio (MP3) | Text Transcript

Accessible Captioned Video

Instructor Interview

The following YouTube interview with Prof. Nuria Sagarra is captioned. You can access captions by clicking the CC button in the lower right corner of the screen. This becomes visible only after starting to play it.

Additional Examples

Simply Speaking Computer Technology Videos

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