Best Practices: Accessibility and videos

Web accessibility has always been a requirement for UMaine websites, and Digital Communications will be increasing our efforts to improve the accessibility of web content on in the coming year. The term “accessibility” refers to our efforts to remove barriers that prevent access to websites by people who have a disability. This month, we focus on video, and the accessibility considerations you should make for your website.

What is “accessible video”?

All video shared publicly on a UMaine website should be made accessible, but what does that mean? An accessible video should include features that allow everyone to understand the contents of the video. This means that a transcript should accompany the video, and captions are available through the video player controls.

Offer a transcript

A transcript is a text version of the video content. It will include all spoken audio, identifying the speaker of each line. On-screen text and descriptions of key visual information should also be provided where they occur in the timeline of the video. If the video was shot from a written script, that can be a great source for the transcript. In addition to abiding by accessibility requirements, a transcript is indexed by search engines and can improve search traffic to your video. Transcripts can be made for a video through third-party services, and typically cost $1 per minute of video.

Provide captioning

Captions are provided on-screen, synchronized with the video. Offering captions is useful for a variety of reasons outside of accessibility— some of your audience may want to watch the video on mute, and captions can help non-native English speakers understand the video. Captions can be made using free tools from YouTube, and there is a captioning service available through the University of Maine System’s Kaltura video platform.

Audio Description

The latest web accessibility guidelines advise that videos should also have a secondary audio track available that provides descriptive audio. We do not currently have an available platform to serve videos with descriptive audio tracks, but once that capability becomes widespread, we will update the community.

If you have questions about video you want to embed on your website, please contact us at for advice on transcripts and captioning.