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.

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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.

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Standard Audio Description

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

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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.