Creating Accessible Videos

CaptionsIllustrated video production equipment

Captions are the text of the audio, intended primarily for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They are also used by those for whom English is not a native language, and those who rely on captions in situations where the volume cannot be turned on or up, and as a powerful tool for search. Captions can be “open” (always visible) or “closed” (able to be turned on or off). 

Many video services provide automated captions, but these are often poor quality. Create accurate, well-formatted captions instead (in house or with a service provider). 

Captioning Resources:


Write Descriptive Narration or Add Audio Description

Audio description is additional narration that describes the key visual elements, inserted into the pauses between dialogue, primarily for people who are blind or visually impaired. Audio narration is typically provided as an option (on or off) or as a separate video, depending on the video player. 

If you are creating new videos, write the script so that key visual information is also available in the narration. This will avoid the need for audio description. For videos that are primarily a single speaker without significant visual information, no audio description is needed.

If you are publishing existing videos or cannot include all visual information in the narration script, you will need to create audio description to make the video fully accessible.

Audio description resources:


Choose an Accessible Player

Standard Features

Most common video players offer the ability to turn captions on and off and most offer accessible controls that can be used from the keyboard or with assistive technology. This includes the YouTube player, JW Player, and the browser-native HTML players in major Web browsers.  

Extra Accessibility Features

Some video players, designed to support inclusive design, offer additional features, like the ability to turn audio description on and off, support for transcripts, adjustable playback speed, and more.



Printable (PDF) Version of Tip Sheet

Developed in conjunction with the National Center for Accessible Media, based at Boston public broadcaster WGBH. NCAM WGBH logo