Provide audio description or text transcript for videos with sound.

Users who are blind or visually impaired need alternatives for video content.

Adding an audio description track or text transcript helps more users enjoy your content. These both help visually impaired users when the video’s regular soundtrack doesn’t convey all the information – for example, because the presenter shows items to the camera or demonstrates a process.

How to Pass

  • Provide a full text transcript of the video; or
  • Provide a version of the video with audio description.


  • You don’t need to satisfy this guideline if the video is itself an alternative to other content.
  • You don’t need to provide an audio description track if the regular soundtrack contains all the information in the video.


 A text transcript is a document that includes all information present in the video, essentially a script for the video. This means including any visual cues (for example, ‘The fisherman holds up a large bass.’) as well as dialogue and non-speech sounds.

 Audio description is an edited version of a video’s soundtrack that adds more information than the regular soundtrack offers during pauses. This might mean narrating movements that are not audibly explained in the video, identifying speakers or explaining visual information. You can provide this to users by letting them select an audio track within the video player or having links to both versions of the video.

Something like a straight face-to-face interview or a speech-to-camera would probably not need audio description. If your video conveys all its information through the regular soundtrack, you don’t need to provide an audio description track. Keep this in mind when creating videos.

To meet this guideline, it’s easier to provide users with a text transcript instead of audio description. However, the either/or option only covers Level A. To reach Level AA you need to offer audio description (see 1.2.5) and for Level AAA you need both audio description and text transcript (see 1.2.8).

If you’re going to the length of audio description for this guideline, you can also satisfy 1.2.5 – Audio Description (Pre-recorded) and 1.2.7 – Extended Audio Description by recording extended audio description tracks wherever necessary.

See Also

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4 comments on “1.2.3 – Audio Description or Media Alternative (Pre-recorded) (Level A)

    Deaf says:

    Don’t forget people who are deaf and blind – audio description does not help them unless they are transcribed.


    Good stuff!
    It would have been nice to mention extended AD, as it’s a solution for an all-too-common issue with AD: the fact that sometimes the original soundtracks does not let you insert AD. If there aren’t enough silent periods in the soundtrack (that is, with no speech, and only muttered background sounds), then it might be not possible to insert AD; because overlapping voices are even worse than no AD at all, in general.

      Luke McGrath says:

      Hi again Olivier. Don’t worry, your love of extended audio description will be covered in a future post. I’m just tackling the Level A guidelines to begin with, but fully plan to cover 1.2.7 in the future. Hope you keep checking in!


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