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Making video, webinar and podcasts accessible

Know how to make multimedia with audio and video accessible to everyone.


  • Captioning (either closed or open)
  • CART (communication access real-time translation)
  • Description ("audio description" or "video description")
  • Text-based transcript

The key to accessible multimedia is to think about accessibility in the planning stage. What message are you attempting to convey? How is your choice of media the best means to convey this message? Finally, ask: what do we need to do to best make this message fully accessible?

Answering these questions up front help ensure that your multimedia is not only meaningful and useful, but that you've allocated appropriate resources to the activity or project. Failing to do so can significantly increase project time and costs. 

Did you know?

Closed captioning provides text to your multimedia that improves your content's searchability.



There are a variety of ways to caption media, mostly depending on whether you're working with a live event or a pre-recorded video, webinar, podcast, etc.

Options for captioning vary widely, and require special software and technical skills. Accuracy and quality are very important considerations. Depending on the media's length, complexity, and visibility, you may decide it is best to hire a professional (see the IT Procurement page for more detail on contracting options). It's important to remember to include costs for captioning or audio description when planning a budget for your event or project.

For an overview and resources on closed-captioning and audio description, the following resources may help you:



Description, often termed "audio description" or "video description" is the practice of providing verbal description of key visual information. In a live event such as a webinar or in-person presentation, often the speaker can provide the description. For recorded media, professional describers create a second sound track that editors then add to the media. Producers can choose to provide the description either through a button on the player (similar to the "cc" option for closed captions) or by offering two media links - one with and one without description. When planning your project, it is important to determine how you will support description, such as whether to hire a description service and how you will make the description available.

The following resources provide an overview and additional resources on description:


Text Transcript

There are a variety of situations in which you may want to provide a text transcript. 

  • To support the audio recording of a public meeting
  • To make a podcast or slide presentation accessible
  • To supplement a captioned video

If there are visual elements, the text transcript should include a description of those elements. 

While you may be tempted to ask someone in your office to transcribe the audio file, that can be impractical. A single hour of audio can run as much as 100 pages of text!

To find a professional, search the MMD contracting site (log in required) for the page  “Contract Court Reporting, Deposition and Tape Transcription Services.” 

  • Court reporting transcribers will provide faster turnaround, but their rates may be higher. 
  • "Secretarial" transcribers may take longer, but at a lower rate.

If your meeting is supported by live captioning, or CART (communication access real-time translation), you can ask for a transcript as part of the deliverable.



Using assistive technologies

Section508 Universe Training  offers online courses for web designers and developers, procurement coordinators, and accessibility coordinators, including topics on accessible video, multimedia and conferencing.

Other Organizations in Minnesota