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The W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Guideline 1.2 states that alternatives for time-based media. One possible alternative is the creation of a text transcript.

What is a transcript?

A transcript in the context of accessibility is a written or printed version of material originally presented in a way that contains audio, such as a video or podcast.

What are the benefits?

Transcripts are beneficial to people across a number of disability groups. For people who are Deaf or hearing impaired, the provision of a transcript can make a medium such as a podcast accessible as all the dialogue can be viewed on the webpage.  For people who are blind or vision impaired, a transcript provides greater flexibility to content as the information can be read out by a screen reader at the user’s preferred speed. 

Outside of disability-specific benefits, transcripts can also be helpful to people with slow internet connections who may not be able to easily download to original content, and transcripts can help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). 

How can I make a transcript?

There are essentially three options. Most organisations use third party transcription providers as these are usually more cost effective than transcribing in house. Should you wish to do the transcription yourself, there are a number of guidelines which should be followed. There are voice-to-text services available online, however transcripts created using this software should be carefully edited for accuracy.

Information from UI Access provides some best practice examples on making good transcripts. Some of the tips include:

  • Use speakers’ names
  • Ensure that all speech content is included. If there is speech that is not relevant, it is usually best to indicate that it has been excluded from the transcript, e.g.: "[participants discuss the weather while the presenter reboots his computer]".
  • Relevant information about the speech, usually in brackets, e.g.: "Joe: I hate this computer! [shouted]"
  • Relevant non-speech audio, e.g.: "[computer crashing into bits and parts sliding across the floor]". Non-relevant background noise can usually be left out of the transcript.

Additional tips and transcript examples are available as part of IBM’s multimedia accessibility guidelines, checkpoint 4.

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