Closed Caption and Hard of Hearing symbols

There’s More To Web Accessibility Than Alt Text, Part 2: Captioning

For many, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about web accessibility is designing for someone using a screen reader – someone with a visual disability. However, vision impairment is only one item on the list when it come to types of disabilities. One other category is auditory disabilities.

There are varying degrees of hearing loss, and it’s important to note that the deaf community does not consider their condition a “disability.” But for our discussion purposes, which is meeting the WCAG requirement for users who cannot hear audio, the term disability is acceptable.

A more detailed explanation of auditory limitations and the deaf culture is outlined in WebAIM’s Auditory Disabilities article.

How can this requirement be met?

Simple answer:  Captions. Complete answer:  Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions.

At the very least, videos should have captions. Not only do captions benefit those with hearing loss, but they also benefit everyone else! How? I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you wanted to watch a video but didn’t want everyone else to hear it (and you were without headphones) or perhaps you couldn’t hear it due to a noisy environment. This is an example of how captions directly and indirectly impact all users, and another example of how accessibility benefits all users, not just those with disabilities.

This post is just an introduction into the world of captioning, transcripts, and audio descriptions. There is so much more information out there that explains each of these in depth. I’d like to leave you with the following resources that present two different approaches on explaining how to meet this accessibility requirement.

WebAIM:  Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions

The Paciello Group:  Captions and Transcripts and Audio Descriptions, Oh My!

Next up, the third & final post of this blog series:  Alt Text (yes, you read that correctly).

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