Hands on a keyboard. Text reads: Make your content accessible with captions, transcripts and audio description. A guide to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) are a set of guidelines for creating accessible website content published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines cover a range of areas that, when complied with, make your content more user friendly, as well as accessible, to people with disabilities, including deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, blindness and low vision, mobility impairments and cognitive disabilities.

Levels of Compliance

Under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, time-based media, such as recorded videos, audio clips and live streamed webinars, are required to be made accessible through the use of closed captions, live captions, transcripts and audio description. The extent to which these need to be made accessible depends on which level of compliance is legislated in your country of operation. Under WCAG 2.0, there are 3 levels of compliance; Level A, Level AA and Level AAA.

Table showing the different requirements for WCAG compliance. For a text alternative, refer to http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#media-equiv

What does WCAG compliance look like?

In complying with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, there are numerous different methods of making your video accessible to people with disability. But what is it like to have audio description, closed  or open captions, or transcripts for your video and audio content? Well, we’ve captioned, transcribed and audio described an example video for you.

Closed Captions

Spoken dialogue and sound effects are displayed as text on screen for viewers. Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.

Open Captions

Spoken dialogue and sound effects are displayed as text on screen, only they cannot be switched off. Open captions are embedded into the video itself.

Standard Audio Description

Recorded voice-over describes the visual elements of the video. The audio description is added in the pauses in dialogue.

Extended Audio Description

When there are no dialogue pauses for audio description, freeze-frames with voice-over description are inserted. These pauses extend the video length.


A written record of the spoken dialogue in a video or audio clip.

Media Alternative Transcript

A written record of dialogue, with the addition of descriptions of visual elements.

Who needs to comply with WCAG?

Since the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are an international collection of standards for web accessibility, whether or not you’re legally bound to comply depends on your country of operation. In most cases, only government departments or agencies are legally required to comply with WCAG. In Australia and the UK, Level AA WCAG compliance is required for Government departments and agencies, while in the US, Federal Agencies must comply with Section 508.

Do you need to comply to WCAG?

Our Services

Full screen YouTube video player on Macbook Pro with closed captions turned on.

Whether you’re streaming a live webinar, uploading videos to your YouTube channel, or uploading podcasts and audio clips, we’ve got you covered with a range of captioning and transcription solutions to make your videos accessible and WCAG compliant.

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Live captions

Our captioners listen to what is being said, and create captions in real-time for any live video or audio content. The live captions are streamed online and can be viewed on any web-enabled device. Live captions make your online lecture, forum, panel or webinar accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Find out more.

Video captions

Closed captions (subtitles) make video content accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing as well as those who have English as an Additional Language (EAL) or are impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Captions include video elements such as dialogue, sound effects and descriptions of music and song lyrics. Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.


A transcript is a written record of the speech that takes place in an audio or video recording. Transcripts make your online video and audio content accessible to a wider audience and visible to search engines by adding a searchability to all spoken words.

Media Alternative Transcript

A Media Alternative (MA) is a text transcript that includes descriptions of what is displayed visually in the video in addition to the speech. It allows people with vision loss to have full access to video content via the use of a screen reader.

Audio Transcription

Audio transcription is the creation of an audio recording based on a text document. It allows people with vision loss to access written content without the need for a screen reader.

Audio description

Audio Description (AD) is descriptive audio narration of relevant visual elements of a video not represented in the original audio track for the benefit of people who are blind or vision impaired. Audio description is either recorded and timed to fit between dialogue and audio, or the video is paused and description inserted due to a lack of dialogue or audio breaks. Find out more.

Make your videos accessible and WCAG compliant.