New Resources from W3C on How to Make Video Accessible

October 14, 2019 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: June 16, 2021

video on phone

The World Wide Web Consortium, also known as the W3C, is an international organization that develops standards for the web. Overseen by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, W3C’s mission is to lead the web to its full potential so that it can be accessible to all users – including people living with disabilities that affect web use.

But what exactly constitutes an accessible web? With the rise of audio and video content across the internet, it’s important that they are accompanied by tools such as captions, audio description, and transcripts in order to be accessible.

As audio and video become more dominant forms of online media, content creators must be sure to include people with sensory and motor disabilities.

The W3C recently published a new educational resource on how to make video accessible. In this post, we’ll equip you with a basic understanding of web accessibility features provided by W3C so that all viewers can enjoy your content.

Understanding the User Experiences of Viewers with Disabilities

Globally, there are millions of people living with some form of disability. Over 605 million individuals have a sensory disability and 190 million have a motor disability. These individuals want to consume audio and video content, but require a few features to make it accessible.

Some deaf and hard of hearing individuals can’t hear at all or very little and need a tool to fully understand the audio information. On the other hand, blind and low vision viewers need a tool to audibly describe the visual information of a video.

Many people with disabilities use accessibility features for a number of reasons. Regardless of the reason, it’s essential to understand the tools that make audio and video accessible.

➡️  10 Tips for Making Web Video Accessible 

How to Make Audio and Video Accessible

Closed Captions

Captions are a visual representation of the audio spoken in a video. It’s text-based and time-synchronized, making it a great alternative if sound isn’t available. Because of this, captions make video accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.


Transcription is the process in which the audio is converted into a written document. Although transcripts are very similar to captions, transcripts don’t include time codes. It’s a great option to include with audio-only content like podcasts or radio shows.

Transcripts make content accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people.

Audio Description

Audio description is an accommodation for blind and low vision users who may not be able to see the visual information portrayed in a video. A voice, human or synthesized, describes key visual elements in between the natural pauses of the speech.

Benefits of Accessible Video

Many people may think that accessibility is the only benefit, but the benefits of accessible audio and video are endless!

Other benefits of accessible video include:

boost in SEO and video views, improved user experience, legal compliance, flexibility in sound sensitive environments, and better comprehsion

What’s Missing from This New Resource

Although W3C gives a detailed resource on how to make video accessible, it doesn’t provide accuracy guidelines to follow.

At 3Play Media, we care about the quality of our captions, transcriptions, and audio descriptions. Therefore, we have certain standards in place to ensure high-quality files.

For caption and transcript files, the industry standard is a 99% accuracy rate. It means that there’s a 1% chance of error.

As for audio description, the DCMP provides a guideline to create high-quality descriptions.

  • Accurate: there must be no errors in word selection, pronunciation, diction, or enunciation
  • Prioritized: content essential to the intended learning and enjoyment outcomes is of primary importance
  • Consistent: both the description content and the voicing should match the style, tone, and pace of the program
  • Appropriate: consider the intended audience, be objective, and seek simplicity and succinctness
  • Equal: equal access requires that the meaning and intention of the program be conveyed

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