In the second video in our Multimedia and Accessibility series, Glenda Sims discusses the different caption types for online media.
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When we're talking about making video content accessible, there are actually two pieces.
The more commonly understood piece is captions: that's where we're trying to make sure that
the audio content of the video is accessible to people who cannot hear. That means that
all dialog and important sounds are turned into a written caption or a written transcript
that is then time-synced to the video. It's also valuable that - when adding the caption
that you also make the pure transcript, in a text format, available. While this is
not a technical requirement - to make the transcript by itself accessible and available
to people - I would highly recommend it. If you've gone to the effort to add a time-sync
caption to your video that means that you have a transcript file available. Why is the
transcript file useful? Because for people who may need to slow down and read that content
or to reread it or who are easily distracted by, perhaps, what's happening visually on
the screen; they can focus on that text transcript and sometimes get better access to the information.
So I think of it as a double bonus. The additional piece that a lot of people are not aware of
for making video content accessible is called "audio description," and this accessibility
is for a whole different type of user disability; and that is for people who cannot see. What
we're trying to do is describe what is important happening visually in the video to make sure
that they get all that content. In the example of this video, you wouldn't need very much
audio description because what we're dealing with here is a video of me talking directly
to the camera and there's nothing critical being shown. There's no graph, there's no
demonstration where I'm saying, "And look here, you can obviously see what's occurring
in this demo." If there were that type of element happening, you would need an audio
description. My best way of describing audio description is: imagine you're at a movie
and you're blind. Imagine you're in a horror movie, and you're blind, and you're only listening
to the dialog. And, for those who can see, there's a shadow on the wall of someone holding
a gun. This is a really important visual element that would need to be audio described to the user.