Accessible Multimedia


Common core



A. Multimedia content standards
A & AA Requirements
  • Level A : synchronized closed captioning (for the hearing impaired) or an equivalent text. (transcript)
  • Level AA (beginning in 2016): audio description.
Other A and AA requirements
  • The standards explored in the Accessible Writing workshop also apply to videos and slideshows (i.e., contrast, sans serif font, etc.)
  • The user can control the volume and flow (forward/reverse /stop) of an audio/video presentation and a slide show.
  • Slide progression must be set at 5-or-more seconds per slide.
  • Flashing pictures or lights should be avoided.
B. Transcription


Accessible Writing
  • Accessibility must be considered when creating transcripts or closed captioning.
Elements to include in the transcript
  • The names of the speakers: introduce speakers by their full names and use only their first names from that point on.
    • If there are multiple speakers, use hyphens help the reader understand who is speaking.
  • All verbal content: If irrelevant oral content is excluded from the transcript, provide a description of it, e.g.: "[participants discuss the weather while the presenter restarts his computer]“. Hesitations, such as "ums" and "ahs“, and pauses can also be omitted.
  • Use square brackets to indicate background noise, e.g., “Joe: I hate this computer [shouted] [music] or [laughter].”
  • Use a return to force the start of a new caption.
  • Add >> to identify speakers or a change of speaker.
  • You can add information to clarify a situation, sol long as it is clear that this information is not part of the audio. You have several ways to do this: put [brackets] around sections, create sections with titles such as "Introduction", "Transcription" or "Resources."
  • Provide the transcript in HTML so that your video content can be easily accessed by Internet users and search engines.
  • Provide a link to the transcript of the audio/video file.
Best practices

Ensure that the transcript includes all relevant audio information.

Example 1:

  • Do not write: “As you can see on this slide, traffic peaked here.”
  • Instead, write: “This picture of website traffic for last year shows that the peak was in August”

Example 2: 

  • If the speaker asks the audience this question: “How many people follow WCAG 2.0?”, write the answer in your transcript: "about half ".
Options for creating a transcript
  • Pay an professional service to create one for you
  • Write the transcript on YouTube
    • By hand
    • Using YouTube voice recognition software

Pay a professional service

Using external transcript writing services
  • Provides transcription in HTML format
  • Costs between $20 and $30 an hour
  • Time required: 3 to 5 days (24 hours possible for a higher fee)
  • A copy of the video must be sent in by email (via a link) or by mail on a USB stick
  • The material is usually returned by mail or email

Note: Make sure to use a bilingual service!

YouTube Transcription

Why use YouTube?
  • It is the multimedia service used by the University’s new website (Drupal 7).
  • Allows you to store videos (saving them on your network may be too cumbersome)
  • Allows you to embed video/audio on your webpage with a closed captioning (CC) option (but no transcription option)
  • Note: avoid putting a video that already has CC on YouTube (the commands will not work)
    • Allows you to create a transcript :
    • by hand (manual drafting)
  • using YouTube voice recognition software
  • Manual drafting on YouTube: Writing out the entire content of your video/audio recording by hand using your keyboard.
  • YouTube voice recognition software: free tool that automatically transcribes the entire content of your video/audio recording and links the transcribed text to the dialogue.

Writing a transcription

By hand or with voice recognition software?

By hand

  • Allows you to add clarifying information
  • Good for a short film
  • Good for videos in which several speakers talk at once
  • Good for bilingual videos or videos with poor sound quality.
  • Pauses the video automatically as you type
  • Longer to create

With the software

  • Quick
  • Can be in French or English
  • Must be reviewed to repair speech recognition software errors and add clarifying information
  • Videos must be unilingual, under one hour, have a good quality audio and should not have several speakers talking at once.
By hand
  1. Upload your audio/video to your YouTube content manager
  2. Listen to your audio or video presentation and type verbal dialogue directly into the text field of the video transcript (your video will automatically pause when you enter text).
  3. Follow best practices to format your text.
Keyboard shortcuts:
  • Rewind your video 5 seconds: Shift + Left Arrow
  • Pause or play your video: Shift + Space
With voice recognition software
  1. Create a YouTube content manager account
  2. Upload your video (in English and French)
  3. Follow the steps outlined in the tutorial video for transcripts 
  4. Follow best practices to edit the transcript

>> ALICE: Hi, I’m Alice and this is John Brown.

>> JOHN: We are the owners of Miller Bakery.

>> ALICE: Today, we’ll learn how to prepare our famous chocolate chip cookies!

[introductory music]

We have assembled all the ingredients.

To learn more about transcription on YouTube

Embed your video/audio into your webpage
  • You can embed your video/audio into your webpage (using Drupal 7)
  • However, the transcript cannot be embedded into your webpage. You will need to create a hyperlink to your transcript on YouTube.
C. Closed Captioning
Closed captions vs. subtitles

Closed captions are subtitles for the hearing impaired and not a partial transcript of the text in another language (subtitles).

Other differences between subtitles and closed captions

  • Subtitles cannot be turned off.
  • Closed captions can be enabled or disabled.
Best Practices
Closed captioning:
  • Is not limited to dialogue. It can also include information necessary to understand the message, including sound effects, music, laughter, identification, the speakers’ location, (e.g., a ringing phone, footsteps outside the door or a clap of thunder).
  • Is usually placed at the bottom center of the video.
  • Should not hide information relevant to the video, even partially.
  • Indicate the name of the speaker e.g.: Smoker: or [MARTIN] or >> Announcer:
  • Describe the tone of voice if necessary e.g.: (Whisper) or  [British Accent] or [Vincent, Narrator]
  • Maximum 12 words per line
  • Should be double spaced
  • Each sentence should begin with a capital letter
  • Try to separate lines to match the speaker’s natural pauses
  • Minimize the use of punctuation such as periods and commas, but keep parentheses, quotation marks and question marks.


A program with English or French subtitles can be closed captioned for the hearing impaired:

Create the translated subtitles first, then create the close captioning for the hearing impaired. In such cases, to avoid hiding the image, we recommend placing the closed captioning at the top center of the video.

Example of closed captioning with subtitles

Creating closed captions on YouTube

You can easily create your own closed captions on YouTube for free.


  1. Create a YouTube account and upload your video
  2. Watch the Creating subtitles video tutorial on YouTube or follow the steps described below.
  3. Edit the transcript (if necessary)
  4. Add a link or a copy of the close-captioned video to your site.
  5. Questions? Contact the IT Help Desk (6555).

Example of video with closed captioning

Steps to creating closed captioning on YouTube
Step 1: Upload your video to YouTube
  1. Go to YouTube
  2. Upload your video to YouTube

    Uploading a video on Youtube
  3. Select Video Manager

    Video Manager

Step 2: Create a caption text file
  1. Open Notepad
  2. Open your video
  3. Type each word in Notepad
  4. Save as an .rtx file

    Save as an .rtx

Step 3: Upload your text file to YouTube

A. Go to YouTube

  • Select Video Manager
  • Select your video
  • Select Captions

    Select Closed Captaining

B. Upload your .rtx file

  • Under Type, make sure Transcript File is selected
  • Under File, choose your file and select Open

    upload a transcript file
  • Under Language, select the language and the name of your file

    New Transcript
  • Click on Upload File (it will take about a minute to load and process the file)

When the process is complete, a CC button will appear at the bottom of your video and users will have the option of enabling or disabling closed captioning.

Formatting tips:

  • Keep sentences short (maximum 7-to-12 words per sentence)
  • Double space each line
  • Avoid using periods, commas or other punctuation except for quotes, apostrophes or question marks
  • Capitalize the first letter of each sentence

Translation of captions into French:

YouTube has a feature that automatically translates your captions into over 60 different languages ​​but the translation is far from perfect

Web accessibility compliance coordinator
613-562-5800 (7452)
  • Accessibility help clinics
  • Needs assessments
  • Made-to-measure tools
  • Referrals
  • Other support
Computing and Communications Service
uOttawa computing assistance request form
Extension 6555
What are my legal obligations?

Understanding the law

  • Accessibility laws
  • Duty to accommodate
  • FAQ
  • uOttawa Accessibility Policy 119
  • Request advice


How to interact with accessibility in mind
Rent accessible goods & services

Sign language interpretation


Wheelchair ramp

Accessible venues

Find an expert

Marie-Claude Gagnon, Senior Officer on Accessibility Policy

613-562-5800 extension 7452

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