Making Video and Audio media Accessible

There are a few basic steps that should be followed when creating a video or audio resource (e.g. a screencast, presentation, lecture, short tutorial, podcast etc.), to ensure your recording is accessible. Before we look at tools and approaches which help to produce accessible recordings, let’s clarify the following important terms:


🔲  Closed captions provide a text version of speech as well as other audio content such as background noise, music or sound effects. Closed captions can be turned on or off while watching a video with the click of a button. Captioning offers several benefits, as long as the captions are accurate. Captions are necessary to make video content accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. On top of that, they provide assistance to English as second language (ESL) speakers, and help those with learning disabilities or attention deficits more easily maintain their concentration. Captions also make content more flexible, as people can read rather than listen (e.g. in public places, in libraries where sound cannot be used, etc.). 


🔲  Transcription is the process in which speech or audio is converted into a written, plain text document. Transcripts are the output of transcription, and because they are plain text there is no time information attached to it. There are two main transcription practices – transcriptions can be produced by (i) auto speech recognition (ASR) where you use automated captions produced for a recorded video (e.g. using MS Teams + Stream) in order to create a transcript that you can edit and share alongside your video, or (ii) by human transcriptionists (at a cost per minute).


Accurate closed captions are legally required to make videos accessible. Transcripts are required to make audio-only content accessible. Captions and transcripts include the same text, so one can be used to develop the other.

What does the Law State?

Since 24 Sept 2020, the UK Digital Accessibility Regulations mean we have a legal obligation to make any material presented digitally, fully accessible. As a public sector organisation, we must remove any obstacles or barriers to accessing content, mobile applications and services. Accessibility promotes equality, diversity and inclusion. Digital Accessibility is a core part of making teaching and learning inclusive for ALL students. Not only is it morally and ethically the right thing to do, it is required by law and currently HEIs in the UK are being audited.

Requirements  for Captions and Transcripts

🎙 Audio Only

For pre-recorded audio, transcripts are required. An example of ‘Audio-only’ recording is a podcast! [WCAG Level A]

📽 Video-only (no audio content)

For pre-recorded video that does not contain audio, a descriptive transcript OR audio description is required. [WCAG Level A]

📺 Video with Audio content

For pre-recorded videos that contain audio, captions are required. Examples of video with audio content include lecture recordings, pre-recorded micro-lectures, welcome video etc. [WCAG Level A]

Continue to prioritise the provision of automated close captions over transcripts, unless you are creating audio resources like podcasts OR where an individual student has a requirement for 100% accurate transcripts as part of their ISSA.

Exemptions from the Regulations

It is worth noting that some materials are exempt from the accessibility regulations. The regulations do not require the institution to fix the following types of content:

📂Old Content

Pre-recorded audio and video created before 23 September 2020 which is not being used in current or future modules

🗣 Live Audio or Video

Any live audio and/or video unless a recording is kept online for 14 days or more and becomes part of course content. If so, it is no longer considered “live” so captions and audio descriptions must be added within 2 weeks (from 23 September 2020).

Good Practice Guidance

When creating video and audio content, good minimum practice should include the following:

Automated Captions

Use automated speech recognition (ASR) available in Microsoft Teams to ensure videos are produced in a way that allows for automated captions. Captions are required for all video that contains audio content. Note that the in-built recorder in Canvas cannot automate captions so avoid if possible.

High Quality Audio

Make sure your audio recording is clear and of high quality as this will optimise the performance of ASR in Microsoft Teams and Stream. It is vital that you speak at a pace that is clear and understandable to all learners.

Minimise Distractions

There are a number of distractions that can occur in video or audio recordings, such a dog barking, fan, boiler, drilling or road works or kids in the background. Where possible, try to minimise background noise.

Quick Check

Captions should convey the meaning and essence of the recording, they don’t have to be verbatim. It is good practice to re-watch your video to check that the captions capture the essence of the recording.

Refer to Source

In a case where you are able to do so, captions should be reviewed and updated. If this is not feasible, consider adding a health warning for students to always revert back to the original source of audio and slides for accuracy.


Provide a glossary of specific terms, names or unusual spellings. This is particularly useful for any terms that may form part of an assessment. This could simply be a standard slide near the start of the presentation.

Capture Key Content

Aim for a ‘key content capture’ approach through either of the following approaches so that recordings can often be reused for future cohorts, reducing the captioning burden over time.

  • Record shorter videos in advance to support revision of key concepts
  • Record pertinent excepts in live sessions

Also try to avoid reference to the day/time/date/year etc., in the recording as this will instantly out-date it.

Accessible Content Design for Video

The following video offers some helpful tips on how to make your recordings more accessible:

You can also view or download the Accessible Poster for Videos, listen to an audio version, or read the detailed key tips developed by CED on this blog post

Digital Accessibility Guides & Resources:

The Centre for Educational Development (CED) have designed a number of helpful resources, guides and online courses which provide support and advice on how to create accessible content for learner variability, provide examples of good/bad practice and highlight tools which you can use to resolve accessibility issues. The following guides in particular are helpful when making accessible video and audio media: