Create Accessible Audio & Video

There are known methods for creating accessible video and audio, which include:

  • Captions – 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 for people who cannot hear the spoken words. Some captions are machine-generated and require human editing to ensure accessibility compliance.
  • Transcripts – a text version of the multimedia (spoken words and visual information). Transcripts help deaf/blind users interact with the media content using assistive technologies such as refreshable Braille devices.
  • Audio Descriptions (AD) – is an additional audio track or narration that describes and gives context for essential visual information in media and live productions.
  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) captions of spoken text and sound in real-time as an event occurs. Captions appear on a large screen, via a laptop or mobile device, or streamed to an Internet browser for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions make multimedia accessible to those with vision and hearing impairments and learning disabilities. They also assist people viewing videos in noisy environments, those with difficulty concentrating, textual learners, and individuals not fluent in English. Creating accurate closed captions and transcripts to meet accessibility compliance requires specific knowledge and time. Hiring a professional video captioning service is cost-effective, provides a quick turnaround, and meets compliance. If you caption videos yourself, here are a few tips:

  • Edit autogenerated captions for accuracy. 
  • Work from a script to make creating a transcript or captions easier. 
  • Integrating descriptions of visual information users need to understand into the main audio content is easier than adding audio descriptions (AD) later.


  • The university must 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 videos.
  • For requests for student accommodations, contact the Disability Center.
  • Captions must be available with pre-recorded and live video content.
  • Audio-only content, such as podcasts, must have 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.
  • Autogenerated captions must be reviewed for accuracy by a human.
  • Allow viewers to turn off sound that automatically plays for over 3 seconds.

Explore the following resources and tools to help you get started. 

Captioning Tools

Things to Check

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?
  • Autogenerated captions must be reviewed for accuracy by a human. Are the captions accurate?
    • The equivalent of the spoken words is provided.
    • No misspellings and mistakes (spacing, proper names, punctuation, etc.).
    • No timing issues. The captions appear at approximately the same time as the audio is available.
  • Does the video have the visual information needed to understand what the video is communicating?

Integrated Technologies Closed Captioning

Important Note: Autogenerated caption services may not meet student accommodations requirements. Contact the Disability Center at for more information on student accommodations.


Panopto is a lecture capture and presentation recording tool integrated into 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 Missouri Online’s Teaching Accessibility page.

Contracted Service Providers

The University has contracted vendors that provide human transcription, captioning, and CART services.

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

While units are not required to use contracted vendors, it is highly encouraged. By choosing a contracted vendor, 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. The purchasing guidelines apply if you do not use one of these vendors. See the Procurement Guidelines.

Contact UM Procurement/Supply Chain Operations for pricing and questions.

How to Caption Live Events

Live captioning your event provides access and supports attendees’ engagement. Captions help everyone, regardless of language fluency or momentary distraction.

To get started:

  • Pick a captioning company. 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, the cost, and any other details to make your event accessible.  
    • Note: At this time, all the vendors you hire to caption an event will provide 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 see the captions as they watch 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 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 set captioning 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.