Guidance for Placing Videos on the University of Maine System Website
The University of Maine System website is required to follow the WCAG 2.1 AA web accessibility standards (External Site) due to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolution. Because of the OCR Resolution, a priority for the website is all content prioritizes accessible web content, which requires both consistency and accuracy.
Please review your web content for errors in accessibility and videos using this guidance.
What is “accessible video?”
All videos shared publicly on the University of Maine System website are required to be made accessible per the OCR Resolution. An accessible video should include features that allow everyone to understand the contents of the video. This means that a transcript should accompany the video, and captions are available through the video player controls. If a video is live, it should have either Live Event Captioning (CART) and/or American Sign Language provided.
A transcript is a text version of the video content. It will include all spoken audio, identifying the speaker of each line. On-screen text and descriptions of key visual information should also be provided where they occur in the timeline of the video. If the video was shot from a written script, the script can be a great source for the transcript. In addition to abiding by accessibility requirements, a transcript is indexed by search engines and can improve search traffic to your video. Transcripts can be made for a video through third-party services, and typically cost $1 per minute of video. Visit the IT Accessibility page on videos to learn more about how to obtain video transcripts.
Podcast and audio transcripts
Although not explicitly a video subject, it is worth noting that podcasts and other audio-only materials also require transcripts to meet accessibility guidelines.
Captions, or “closed captions,” are provided on-screen, synchronized with the video. Offering captions is useful for a variety of reasons outside of accessibility — some of your audience may want to watch the video on mute, and captions can help non-native English speakers understand the video. Captions can be made using free tools from YouTube, and there is a captioning service available through the University of Maine System’s Kaltura (External Site) video platform. Information about using Kaltura can be found on the IT Solutions Instructional site (External Site).
Subtitles vs. captioning
Subtitles are used to provide translations from one language to another, whereas captions are used to provide a perceivable text-based alternative to information that is provided with audio. Most editors of the University of Maine System website who encounter videos as a part of their work will be providing captioning and not subtitles.
Live captioning (CART) and/or American Sign Language interpretation is required when a video is being streamed live.
You can find additional information and resources on the University of Maine System Information Technology (IT) Accessibility Accessible Materials & Websites webpage and the IT Accessibility Live Event Captioning webpage to learn more and/or to find an approved live captioning vendor.
Coming soon: Audio description
The latest web accessibility guidelines advise that videos should also have a secondary audio track available that provides descriptive audio. We do not currently have an available platform to serve videos with descriptive audio tracks, but once that capability becomes widespread, we will update the community.