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Accessibility Toolkit for Open Educational Resources (OER): Videos [Updated 2021]

Accessibility guide for creating OER

General Information

General Information:

Videos are great and they should be produced and delivered in ways that ensure that all members of your audience can access their content. Providing captions, audio descriptions and transcripts make your videos accessible to a wide audience,

Why making videos accessible is important?

  • Video captions not only benefit those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but people who are learning disabled, ESL learners, those who are in a quiet public environment and don’t have access to headphones (such as a library).
  • Video captioning improves comprehension and retention of information.

How to create accessible videos:

  • Create captions, a transcript, and audio descriptions for your videos.
  • YouTube provides automatic captioning, however it is not without errors.  If you use the automatic captioning, edit out errors.
  • Make sure it is delivered in an accessible media player.


Captions are text versions of the audio content, synchronized with the video.

Audio Descriptions

Audio Descriptions are commentary and narration which guides the listener through the movie, tv show, theater or other art form with concise, objective descriptions of new scenes, settings, costumes, body language, and "sight gags," all slipped in between portions of dialogue or songs.

  • Audio Descriptions help with accessibility for people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired. 
  • Audio description supplements the regular audio track of a program. 
  • Audio description is usually added during existing pauses in dialog.
  • Audio description is also called “video description” and “descriptive narration”

Examples of Captions and Audio Descriptions

Still not totally sure what audio descriptions are and how they are different from captions? Play these 2 videos of the same trailer for movie Frozen to see the difference.

Video with Subtitles

Attribution: [IMSTVUK] (2013, Nov 12) Frozen - Trailer with Subtitles [Video file]

Video with Audio Descriptions

Attribution: [IMSTVUK] (2013, Nov. 12) Frozen – Trailer with Audio Description [Video File].


  • Transcripts allow anyone that cannot access content from web audio or video to read a text transcript instead.
  • Transcripts provide a textual version of the content that can be accessed by anyone. They also allow the content to be searchable, both by computers (such as search engines) and by end users.
  • Screen reader users may also prefer the transcript over listening to the audio of the web multimedia.


WebAIM’s mission is to expand the potential of the web for people with disabilities. They empower individuals and organizations to create accessible content by providing knowledge, technical skills, tools, organizational leadership strategies, and vision.  Read their tips on Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions.