How to Make Audio and Video Accessible

Captions, transcripts and audio descriptions make multimedia accessible to those with vision and hearing impairments, and learning disabilities. These also assist people viewing videos in noisy environments, those who have difficulty concentrating, textual learners, individuals not fluent in English, and others.


  • Transcript: A written or printed version of material originally presented in another medium. Transcripts allow users to search for specific information or keywords contained in the media.
  • Closed Captions/Subtitles: A text-based description of the video’s dialogue including speaker identification and other relevant audio information (i.e., music or sound effects). The text typically appears on the bottom of the screen but may be placed in different locations. Captions are synchronized with the media.
    • Automatic captions are machine-generated and require human editing to ensure accessibility compliance.
    • The most common use for subtitles is for translating dialogue into another language.
  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART): CART is the captioning of live events.
  • Audio Descriptions (AD): An additional audio track or narration that describes and gives context for essential visual information in media and live productions.

Accessibility Compliance

  • The university is required to provide equally effective communication for people with disabilities and seeks to meet and exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and state law. See Accessibility Laws, Policies and Standards. To provide equal access, staff should provide accurate captions for all video.
  • For requests for student accommodations, contact the Disability Center.
  • For audio-only content, such as a podcast, provide an accurate text transcript.
    • The text transcript must be an accessible document, preferably HTML.
    • If you provide a text transcript in other formats, such as a .TXT file, the transcript/link must be under or close to the audio player.
  • Automatic captioning must be reviewed for accuracy by a human.
  • For live video, provide live captions or a prepared transcript, statement or script that contains equivalent information to what is spoken.
  • Provide a way for viewers to turn off sound that automatically plays for more than 3 seconds.

Add Audio Descriptions, Captions and Transcripts

Creating accurate closed captions and transcripts to meet accessibility compliance requires specific knowledge and takes time. Hiring a professional video captioning service is cost-effective, provides a quick turnaround and meets compliance.

If you choose to caption videos yourself, explore the following resources and tools. You must edit automatic captions for accuracy. Working from a script will make it easier to create a transcript or captions. Integrate descriptions of visual information that users need to understand into the main audio content.

For prerecorded videos (e.g., YouTube, etc.) with spoken words:

  • Is there a CC (caption) button on the media player to turn captions on?
  • Are there captions when the caption (CC) button is on?
  • Are the captions accurate?
    • The equivalent of the spoken words is provided.
    • No misspellings and mistakes (spacing, proper names, etc.).
    • No timing issues. The captions (text content) appear at approximately the same time that the audio would be available.

Important Note: Auto-generated captions must be reviewed for accuracy by a human. The punctuation and spacing, and proper names need to be corrected.

How to Caption Live Events

Live captioning your event provides access and supports attendees’ engagement. Captions also provide the opportunity for everyone to keep up, regardless of language fluency or momentary distraction.

To get started:

  • Pick a captioning company. (See vendor list below) The companies can answer questions like “how do I?” and “how does it work?”. They will tell you their availability, the best fit for the job, cost, and any other details to make your event accessible.  
    • Note: At this time, all of the vendors you would hire to caption an event would be providing remote captioning. There are limited in-person CART providers in the Columbia, MO area.
  • Think about how you are going to display the captions. On a screen in a venue? The bigger, the better, if it’s a large event.  
    • Sightlines are important. You want the audience to be able to see the captions as they’re watching whatever is happening on stage. 
    • Turning their heads to be able to see the captions elsewhere does not provide equal access.
    • Captions live stream is an option to consider.
  • How will the captioning company hear the audio? There are many options for this, so don’t think that you will need a state-of-the-art sound system for a successful event. For example, iPads have great microphones built into them. Most companies use a platform like Skype to get the audio.
  • It’s unlikely for large events like a commencement that the captioning company will have to talk to the technical people on this side of the internet connection. Find out who that person is for your department or event. If you’re having an event in a dedicated event space, confirm that reservations staff or event staff know how to get captioning set up and have it ready the day of the event.
  • The cost of captioning is the responsibility of the event organizer. It is best to budget this cost for every event.

Integrated Technologies Closed Captioning

Important Note: While automated captions are fairly accurate, this service may not fully meet ADA requirements for accommodation.  If you are providing captions to meet a student’s accommodation, please contact the Disability Center at

Panopto is a lecture capture and presentation recording tool that is integrated in Canvas.

VoiceThread is an application integrated with Canvas that allows users to create presentations, post comments, and share content.

Zoom is an enterprise video communications platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars.

For more information on creating accessible course materials, visit Accessibility resources and Instructional Design support.

Contracted Service Providers

The following vendors are contracted to provide human transcription, captioning and CART services. To get started, contact any vendor listed below. Contact Procurement for questions.

The Data Classification Level (DCL) of the data being captioned, transcribed or made audible in accordance with this contract must be limited to DCL1 (public data) and DCL2 (sensitive data) data. The use of these services for DCL3 (restricted) or DCL4 (highly restricted) data is not approved by the university. Refer to the university’s Data Classification System for more information.

While units are not required to select a contracted vendor, they are highly encouraged to do so. By choosing one of the vendors, you ensure projects will adhere to all university standards and requirements — including the IT Compliance standards — and eliminate the need for a formal RFP, significantly expediting your timeline. If you do not use one of these vendors, the purchasing guidelines apply. See the Procurement Guidelines.

Contact vendor for special University pricing.


Ai Media
Kyle Phillips,

Automatic Sync Technologies, LLC.
Indra Trujillo,

Caption First
Roy Graves,
Pat Graves,
Ashton Laub,

Quality Transcription Specialists, LLC
Cal Hutson,

3Play Media Inc.
Ben Wright,
Natalie Tarski,

20/20 Captioning and Steno Cart Inc. (CART Services only)
Chris Hopkins,