Provide Accessible Alternatives for Audio/Video

Use captions or provide a timed text-based version of the soundtrack for video and provide transcripts or audio descriptions for both audio and video content. Ensure the players used are keyboard accessible and that the video or audio does not automatically start playing.


Captions provide a text equivalent of the audio information in a video. The captions are synchronized with the video presentation. The caption text aligns with the spoken words in the audio and when important actions are presented on the screen. Anything said or heard in the video must be included in the captioning.

Captions can be created automatically using Google or YouTube (see how this can be done: Using Automatic Captioning). Once the dialogue is transcribed, where needed, add descriptive text that expresses what else is going in the video (e.g. actions, body language, scene changes, etc.).

Most “closed captions” can be hidden or shown by people watching the video. There are also “open captions” that are always displayed and cannot be turned off.

It is important to distinguish captions from subtitles. While subtitles translate the dialogue of a video, sometimes in another language, captions also describe the music and sound to give the same information that one would receive from listening to the audio.


Transcripts are the text equivalent of an audio or video file. They make audio and video content available to people who can’t hear or see the content, or who prefer to read the information. A properly constructed transcript should include:

  • on-screen text
  • dialogue and narration
  • important sounds (e.g. doorbell rings)
  • important actions (e.g. Alex anxiously looks out the window to see who has rung the doorbell)

For more information about transcripts, access the transcript guidelines and checklist on the Government of Canada Digital Accessibility Toolkit:

Audio Descriptions

Audio Descriptions (also known as described video) provide individuals with visual or cognitive disabilities a detailed and descriptive account of on-screen events. The descriptions include information about actions, characters, scene changes, and any on-screen text during pauses in dialogue, thereby enriching the viewing experience beyond the main soundtrack.

For more information about audio descriptions, access the audio description guidelines and checklist on the Government of Canada Digital Accessibility Toolkit: