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Subtitles & Audio Description


Section 508:

  • § 1194.22(a)
  • §1194.22(b)
  • § 1194.31(c)
  • § 1194.31(d)

WCAG 2.0:

  • 1.2.1
  • 1.2.2
  • 1.2.3
  • 1.2.4
  • 1.2.5

Subtitles (captions) and audio description must be provided on all live and prerecorded audio and video content.

Where available in the original broadcast content and where devices and delivery technology support it, subtitles and audio description must be provided on all live and prerecorded content available.

Audio content is not available to users who cannot hear and video content is not available to users who cannot see. Having this information synchronized with the portion of the media that can be accessed is critical to providing equivalent access to the information.

Closed or open captions must be provided when available and when supported by the platform. Open captions are burned into the video while closed captions typically reside in a separate file or are encoded into the video. Closed captions can be turned on or off typically via a user interface control.


Use a media player that supports captions/subtitles. Provide correctly labelled controls to turn on and off the captions/subtitles. Flash is not supported on many mobile devices and thus HTML 5 based media players will likely need to be used to deliver captions and audio description via HTML.

There are several different options to deliver captions and audio descriptions including different caption formats. The caption format may be dependent on the media player used. The audio description format can either by a text synchronization (but this is not currently supported) or a secondary audio file or a secondary video with an enhanced audio track.


Recommended tool/method: Manual

  1. Activate the app
  2. Locate multimedia
  3. Determine if the media has an audio track that contains important information- such as spoken audio
    • Verify that the information in the audio track is provided via sub-titles/opened or closed captions in conjunction and synchronized with the audio
  4. Determine if the media has a visual track that contains important visual information
    • Verify that the visual content necessary for understanding the multimedia is described as part of the audio or is provided through a separate track containing the audio descriptions and is  synchronized with the video
More in this category: « Transcripts Metadata »