Multimedia Accessibility

Illustration of person with headphones and microphone watching a video.When we add videos and audio to websites, it enriches the digital experience for our visitors. But it’s important to make sure our multimedia content is accessible to everyone.

The following practices and resources for captions, transcripts, audio description, and social media will help you create equal and accessible experiences for all users.

Icon of laptop with video and captions on the screen.Captions

Captions convert audio dialogue and sounds into text that appears on a video, synchronized with audio. They can be added to a pre-recorded video, or added to live videos in real time.

Captions provide equal access and effective communication for Deaf and hard of hearing people, which means that captions are essential in allowing full participation. But captions can also enhance the experience for non-native language speakers, people with learning disabilities, and anyone in a noisy environment.

Icon of transcript near play button.Transcripts

Podcasts and audio files posted on Harvard websites should include a transcript, a non-synchronized text of the audio material provided adjacent to the video or audio file. Like captions, transcripts provide equal access for people with hearing impairments. But they also benefit non-native language speakers and anyone in a noisy environment, and they have the added benefit of being searchable. 

Audio description logo.Audio Description

If a video includes content that is only presented visually, such as on-screen text, graphics, or actions that are not obvious from the audio, this visual information must be described in order to be accessible to people who are unable to see it. By planning ahead, a video producer can script and create content that includes descriptions of meaningful visual elements and actions. 

If it’s not possible to describe visual information within the script or audio, then you’ll need to add Audio description (AD), an audible narration of the relevant visual information in a video. 

Guidance on Audio Description

Icon of two people talking.Social Media

Social media accounts at Harvard should make every effort to ensure the content they share is accessible to all audiences. In addition to being more inclusive, Harvard flagship channels prioritize promoting content that is accessible. Harvard Public Affairs & Communications has provided guidance for accessibility on social media in general, and specifically on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.