It is important to provide equal access opportunities to all interactive media. This includes media that is audio-only such as podcast, .mp3’s, audio recordings, and teleconferences and media that is audio-video such as YouTube videos. When multimedia is used, alternatives to multimedia files in the form of transcripts, captions and audio descriptions must be provided. Multimedia files must also have controls to allow users to pause, stop and restart the multimedia files. Finally, when multimedia is embedded into a website, a notification must be incorporated within the HTML code for browsers who cannot support embedded content.
Alternatives for Multimedia Content
Transcripts, captions and audio descriptions should always be incorporated into multimedia files.
Transcripts are text versions of multimedia files. Transcripts can be used for videos or audio recordings. Transcripts are typically useful for users to download and have access to the text of the media.
Captions are transcripts that are synchronized with the video or audio. If the media has captions, it does not require a transcript. There are two types of captions:
- Closed captioning are captions that can be turned off and on by the user.
- Open captioning are captions that remain on screen and cannot be turned off.
Audio descriptions describe the visuals that are portrayed in the video. Examples of what can be included in an audio description are if the video includes diagrams or charts.
A pause, stop, and restart feature should always be incorporated within a multimedia file. This will allow users the ability to control when the content is played.
For multimedia content that is embedded via the
<embed> element, it requires an additional element called the
<no embed> which is used to direct a user to alternative content when their browsers cannot support the embed content. Modern coding practices and video players, however, should prevent users from having to use this alternative. For instance, the
<object> element, is the more modern method to embed multimedia files into a webpage.
Why is interactive media important?
Interactive media must be accessible to ensure equal access opportunities for all users with different access needs. Including transcriptions, captions or audio descriptions into interactive media will help benefit the following users:
- Users that are deaf or hard of hearing
- Users that have cognitive disabilities
- Users who are non-native speakers
- Users who are visual learners
Alternative descriptions for interactive media will ultimately provide users with needed information to help them understand the content in these files. Transcripts, captions and audio descriptions will also make it easy for all users to interpret what is being said. In cases where the audio quality that is poor (e.g. background noise) and users find it difficult to understand what is being said in the media file, captions, transcripts or audio descriptions will allow them to fill in information that they are unable to hear.