Tips for Writing Captions and Transcripts
General Tips for Both Captions and Transcripts
When authoring closed captions or 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.
Captions Should be
- Accurate: Captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible, as appropriate. Identify who is speaking.
- Synchronous: Captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible and must be displayed on the screen at a speed that can be read by viewers.
- Complete: Captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.
Transcripts Should be
- Accurate: 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.
- Complete: Transcripts must include everything from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.
- Descriptive (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.