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Accessible Video And Transcripts

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Adrian Roselli

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User since: 14 Dec 1998

Articles written: 85

With HTML5 on the horizon, it is becoming far easier to embed video on a web page than it has been. Sure, you can drop some code copied from YouTube, but you have little control over the HTML or the video output. Once you do have your video, you also need to bear in mind that not only are video (and audio) transcripts good practice, they are required by law for many organizations.

HTML5 Video Captions

Bruce Lawson has been kind enough to put together an example and code (Accessible HTML5 Video with JavaScripted captions) for his method to embed synchronized captions, using JavaScript for the synchronization, with a video embedded using the HTML5 video element. The caveat here is that you need to have a browser that supports the open Ogg Theora codec. You can check out the sample video if you have such a capable and sweet browser.

YouTube Automatic Captions

Some of you may remember my post about how YouTube can now automatically caption your videos using speech recognition software. While the results can be interesting, you can at least edit the captions coming out of YouTube. Terrill Thompson describes how he grabbed the .sbv caption file from his video and updated it, then uploaded it back to YouTube for a much more useful result.

Why Transcripts?

Shawn Henry leads the education and outreach effort promoting web accessibility at the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). She recently wrote an article titled Transcripts on the Web: Getting people to your podcasts and videos that explains why you would want to do this, some best practices, and even some resources. For example, in addition to supporting users who are deaf or hard of hearing, she points out that search engines can index a transcript where they cannot index a video or audio file. This adds to the overall SEO strategy for any site. Her best practices go beyond what the captions mentioned above provide: she points out that sometimes we need to state how many people in a video raised their hands in response to a question. She is good to not browbeat the reader with a reminder that WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 all require transcripts — at least not until the end of the article.

If you have a few minutes after reading all these other links, consider reading the interview with Shawn Henry, W3C's Shawn Henry on Website Accessibility, from last week over at Freelance Review.

A founder of, Adrian Roselli (aardvark) is the Senior Usability Engineer at Algonquin Studios, located in Buffalo, New York.

Adrian has years of experience in graphic design, web design and multimedia design, as well as extensive experience in internet commerce and interface design and usability. He has been developing for the World Wide Web since its inception, and working the design field since 1993. Adrian is a founding member, board member, and writer to In addition, Adrian sits on the Digital Media Advisory Committee for a local SUNY college and a local private college, as well as the board for a local charter school.

You can see his brand-spanking-new blog at as well as his new web site to promote his writing and speaking at

Adrian authored the usability case study for in Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself, published by glasshaus. He has written three chapters for the book Professional Web Graphics for Non Designers, also published by glasshaus. Adrian also managed to get a couple chapters written (and published) for The Web Professional's Handbook before glasshaus went under. They were really quite good. You should have bought more of the books.

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