Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded)
Success Criterion 1.2.3 Level A


Are you providing an optional audio track or text alternative to describe what is happening visually in all video content?

Why is this important

People with visual impairments are unable to see the images (moving or static) in a video. They can miss important information or context-setting clues because they are only able to listen to the accompanying audio. Providing text or audio descriptions of visual components can help users access and understand the content in its entirety.

Whom does it benefit?

Example 1:

As a person who is blind,
I want an audio or text description of what is happening on the screen in a video
so that I can fully understand the content.

Example 2:

As a person who is blind and taking an advanced Chemistry class online,
I want an audio or text description of simulations and videos of lab experiments
so that I can understand the purpose of the experiment, complete my assignments, and fully participate in class discussions.

What should you do?

For video or other time-based content that contains both audio and visual components:

  • Provide a text description of the visual component.
    – or –
  • Include a second audio track (“audio description”) that describes what is happening visually on screen.

How do you do it?

Providing a text-based alternative:

  • Provide a text version of all audio and visual information in the synchronized media. This includes full descriptions of visual information such as the main visual action, the surrounding context and the physical and facial expressions of the actors. It also includes transcripts of all dialogue and notation of non-speech sounds like laughter or other sounds.
  • Provide a link to the text version next to the synchronized media.

Providing Audio Description:

Providing an audio description means that the original media file will need to be altered. A media file with both audio and visual content will need an additional audio track added to describe what is happening visually in the media. See bullets below for key points on providing an audio description.

  • Add an additional narration soundtrack (an audio description) that describes important visual details that cannot be understood from the main soundtrack alone.
  • The audio description should provide information about actions, characters, scene changes, on-screen text, and other important visual content.
  • In standard audio description, the narration is added during existing pauses in dialogue. (See also Success Criterion 1.2.7 Extended Audio Description if pauses are not sufficient for adding the narration)
  • Where all of the video information is already provided in existing audio, no additional audio description is necessary.

Need technical guidance?

Additional Resources to help you: