Accessibility Tip of the Week

What is a descriptive transcript?

  • Summary: Provide descriptive transcripts for your audio and video content.
  • Who it helps: Transcripts that include important visual information as well as caption content help people who are deaf, blind and people who are deaf-blind.
  • Additional benefits: Descriptive transcripts ensure all of the important information in your audio and video content is searchable.

Have you ever wondered how people who cannot see or hear use a computer? They rely on braille keyboards and displays to access information. That means they need descriptive transcripts of video content, so that visual and auditory information can be turned into braille.

Descriptive transcripts include all the content in the captions, including important sounds and music as well as speech and important visual information. Deciding what visual information to include takes some practice. It also depends on what type of content is being transcribed. Add visual content to the transcript when:

  • Someone speaking refers to the content but doesn’t describe it.
  • The visual content conveys useful information and is not included anywhere in the captions.
  • The multimedia is for entertainment and the visual content helps convey location, mood, character, humor, or plot development.

What can I do?

The easiest way to create a visual transcript is to export a caption file and remove the time stamps. Then, add any important visual information. There are several free ways to create transcripts using common applications and devices.

If you are creating a video, plan ahead and make sure the speakers or commentators describe any important visual information. That way you only need to export the captions. For example, if you are recording a talk, ask the presenter to read or describe the slides and charts in the presentation. This ensures the visual descriptions are included in the captions.

Once the descriptive transcript is complete, post a link to it near the video or paste it into the description of your social media.

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