Descriptive Transcripts

A transcript contains all of the spoken words and important sounds in an audio clip or video. It is often written like a screenplay, including the names of who is speaking. Video transcripts include description of important sounds as well as visual elements. These are referred to as descriptive transcripts.

The primary audience for transcripts for audio clips is people with hearing impairment or those listeners with learning/cognitive disabilities. For videos, the primary audiences for the transcript include  visually impaired users, and viewers with learning/cognitive  disabilities.

Get help creating a separate transcript page

Writing transcripts


When authoring transcripts for accessibility purposes, be sure to include text for all audio that is spoken including meaningful sounds. Ask yourself, does leaving out this sound change the story, lesson or experience? The writer must use his or her own judgment.

Example: should you indicate in captions/transcript that someone has coughed?

  • Someone is giving the commencement address and pauses to cough — not necessary to include.
  • Character in a play is coughing, because it foreshadows her later death — important to the story, include.

Your goal is to ensure all visitors experiencing the media are getting the same information out of it no matter on which senses they rely.


Include images and text appearing on screen, as appropriate. See "Descriptive" below.

Transcripts should be


Transcripts must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible, as appropriate. Include who is speaking.


Transcripts must include everything from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.


(for video) 

You should include visual descriptions for people who are unable to see the screen, but may have assistive technology read the transcript to them.

  • Include images and text appearing on screen, as appropriate.

  • Details: You do not need to go overboard with details such as what a person is wearing (unless it is part of a plot point) or that a person is pointing with his left hand as opposed to his right. You want to get any meaningful visual changes across. If it affects a story or improves clarity of a lecture, include it. If the dialogue covers the text on screen, you do not need to repeat it.