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Captioning Audio & Video

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Success Criterion 1.2.1-1.2.5 mandate that all time-based media—in many cases, audio and video—include text alternatives. Oftentimes, these come in the form of captions.

All video and audio must be captioned regardless of where it lives 1 . Audio and video fall under Information and Communication Technology (ICT) according to the § 1194.4 "Definitions" of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The policy refers directly to “multimedia”.

To learn more about Success Criterion 1.2.1-1.2.5, check out the WCAG 2 Quick Reference Guide.


The following is a non-exhaustive list of the scope of Success Criterion 1.2.1-1.2.5:

  • Non-text content
    • Charts
    • Graphs
    • Diagrams
    • Maps
    • Animations
    • CAPTCHA's
  • Time-based media
    • Audio
      • Examples include but are not limited to: podcasts, lectures or recorded course content.
    • Video
      • Examples include but are not limited to: recorded course content, videos on social media, YouTube, Vimeo, webinars, or live streamed events.

Pro Tip: Supada Amornchat made a wonderful guide on Making Complex Images Accessible—a handbook for non-text content.

Captioning for online videos

Many of today’s modern services provide captioning help out of the box. Regardless of which service you use, always ensure it has captioning capabilities.

WVU recommends using YouTube as a service for hosting your video. Users can upload a video to YouTube and YouTube will generate captions which you can later edit and correct. It’s important to note: generated captions are not accurate. Video administrators are required to check and correct their video’s captions.



There are a plethora of companies who offer captioning services for around $1.25 per minute. To contract a company to caption a set number of videos, you can use a vendor like:

Or contact one of the following companies available in the Mountaineer Marketplace:

WVU Marketplace: Yes

NOTE: WVU is not endorsing any of the companies listed on this page. Please do your own research and choose the vendor that works best for you.

VITAC requires customers to submit a quote for service. Once you have a quote, submit the quote to Procurement Contracting and Payment Services (PCPS) as a requisition via email: PCPS will follow up with instructions whereupon you can later do business with the vendor. Going the requisition route may benefit you if you have a large amount of content to caption.

In addition to the vendors above, WVU’s Office of Accessibility Services will transcribe videos as a free service. Please note they offer this service at their own discretion and do not guarantee a turnaround time. This service is done during periods of free time by their transcribers. They prioritize videos for academic coursework first and reserve the right to decline your request. To request to have a video captioned by the Office of Accessibility Services, follow the instructions on their Closed Captioning Unit page.


1. Except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such.