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How to use multimedia accessibly

Making accessible multimedia

See how to make your audio and video files accessible online.


Provide transcripts

You need to provide transcripts for all video and audio files.

  • You can put these underneath videos or podcasts in dropdowns, on separate pages, or on the same page.
  • You can include time stamps if you are able to, but these are not vital.
  • You must check any auto-generated transcripts.
  • You also need to transcribe information which is shown but not spoken, similar to an audio description
  • If you are running a live event, you have 14 days to provide a transcript of the video afterwards.

As a bonus, putting your text into a transcript benefits your search engine optimisation because your copy is searchable.

One method of creating transcripts is to upload your video to MS Streams, let it create auto-captions and then correct any mistakes before you export the transcript.

Find out more about transcripts from W3.org


Provide captions

You need to provide transcripts for all videos and audio files

These cannot simply be auto-generated ones. You need to check to make sure that they are correct.


Provide audio descriptions and plan them into your script in advance

You need to provide basic audio descriptions when there are visuals not covered in what’s said.

  • You do not need to describe talking heads
  • You do not need to describe text on the screen which is read out by the narrator
  • You do need to describe any important information which is presented visually but not read out loud (like charts and diagrams, or text quotes)

We appreciate that this can take extra time and be difficult. As such, it is best to plan in advance so that you do not need audio narration. For example, if a chart is shown on the screen, your narrator could explain what is being shown.

As a bonus, putting your text into a transcript benefits your search engine optimisation because your copy is searchable.

Find out more about Audio Descriptions from W3.org


Social media

The following information is taken from Hootsuite's 'Inclusive Design for Social Media' post.

  • Facebook: Auto-generate captions, write them yourself, or upload a SubRip (.srt) file. Automatic closed captioning is also available for Facebook Live and Workplace Live.
  • YouTube: Auto-generate captions, transcribe them, or upload a supported file to YouTube. Errors can be corrected with the YouTube caption editor. Automatic captions are available in English for YouTube Live.
  • Instagram: Automatic closed captioning is now available for IGTV Live and IGTV. Otherwise video captions must be burned in or encoded in advance. Add captions to your Instagram Stories, and TikTok and Snapchat videos, with custom text. Cliptomatic helps with this.
  • Twitter: Upload an .srt file with your video. Twitter is also working to add automated captions to video and audio.
  • LinkedIn: Upload an .srt file with your video.

Do not use autoplay or auto-movement

Videos and audio must not play automatically unless the user is made aware this will happen. Users must be given options to choose to play content with accessible pause buttons.

Even providing pause buttons is not always helpful, because the following people can have problems with any kind of moving content:

  • People with vestibular issues
  • People with sensitivities
  • People using screen readers
  • People with low vision or cognitive impairments.

User preferences should persist from page to page.

As such, at Warwick, our guidelines are that nothing should automatically play on a web page. This includes audio, video and any animations like gifs. The only exceptions are our accessible carousels - but we recommend caution using these too.


Do not use flickering or flashing content

Content must not visibly or intentionally flicker or flash more than three times in any one-second period.

Visual flicker, flashing and strobe lighting can affect anyone, but some users will be more susceptible than others. Symptoms may include eyestrain, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, migraine, and nausea. Users with medical conditions such as Ménière’s or photosensitive epilepsy can be severely affected, experiencing vertigo, hearing loss and seizures.

A well-documented example of the effects of flicker is Pokémon Shock.

Lots of motion on screen can also cause discomfort and nausea for some people, particularly users with balance and eye movement disorders.

Avoid motion that the user has not chosen to opt-in to, unless it is very brief and small.

If flicker is integral to the content, warn the user before they reach the content and allow them to choose not to opt-in to viewing it.

Where editorially appropriate, provide an alternative version of content that does not flicker but is as close to the original as possible.

(Guidance taken from BBC Flicker guidance)