How do I make videos accessible?

This page provides an overview of what you need to do to make video recordings (on YouTube, Vimeo, etc) accessible and will provide you with essential resources.

What is an accessible video?

An accessible video is usable by people of all abilities, using a variety of devices. Accessible videos must:

  • Have accurate captions.
  • Have captions that are synchronized with the audio.
  • Have sufficient color contrast.
  • Have audio descriptions of visual aids. This includes diagrams, graphs, and visual demonstrations.

How should captions be written?

Good captioning needs to:

  • Be accurate. Captions need to accurately reflect the audio content and be synchronized with speech.
  • Include punctuation and capitalization.
  • Use both upper case and lower case text. Only use ALL CAPS to represent yelling.
  • Identify speakers. This is important when there are multiple speakers and any of them are speaking offscreen.
  • Include relevant background sounds. This can include things like music, laughing, clapping, or loud sounds.

Review the Style guide for transcripts and captions for more information about writing captions.

Color contrast in video recordings

You may already be familiar with the accessible use of color in documents and websites. When you use color, make sure that text and important graphics:

  • Have sufficient color contrast
  • Don’t rely on color alone to provide information

This ensures that people with low vision or colorblindness are able to see and use your content.

When to consider color contrast

  • Caption text: If you’re using closed captions, then the player (in many cases, YouTube) will allow users to adjust the color and size themselves. You only need to worry about the color contrast of captions if you use open captions, which are embedded in the video file.
  • Graphics: Any text, charts or diagrams that are added to your video during production (such as title cards, ending credits).
  • Slide presentations: If used in a video, the original document should use sufficient color contrast for all text and important graphics.

What tools can be used to make videos accessible?

Professional transcription and captioning services

For captions

  • YouTube is free and easy to use. You can use it to create captions even if you don’t host your video on YouTube.

For color contrast

  • Colorblindly is a free Chrome extension that allows you to view web-based content through filters that simulate different types of colorblindness. Use the “Monochromacy” setting to watch your video in grayscale.
  • TPGi’s Color Contrast Analyzer is a free, downloadable application that allows you to check color contrast ratios for compliance. You can use it for documents and web-based content. Use it to check text and graphics in your video.

What are the YouTube video deadlines and responsibilities?

If you join the UC Berkeley Network on YouTube:

Published date Captioning responsibility Compliance deadline
On or after December 2, 2022 Content owner September 2, 2023
December 2, 2020 - December 2, 2022 3Play Media (excludes lecture) December 2, 2025
Before December 2, 2020 (with more than 750 views) 3Play Media (excludes lecture) December 2, 2025
Before December 2, 2020 (with less than 750 views) Not required by Consent Decree (Not applicable)

If your channel isn't part of the UC Berkeley Network on YouTube:

Published Date Captioning Responsibility Compliance Deadline
On or after December 2, 2022 Content Owner September 2, 2023
December 2, 2020 - December 2, 2022 Content Owner December 2, 2025
Before December 2, 2020 (with more than 750 views) Content Owner December 2, 2025
Before December 2, 2020 (with less than 750 views) Not required by Consent Decree

(Not applicable)

If you have lectures on YouTube

For lecture content, you have four options:

  • It is highly recommended that instructors use Kaltura, a supported video distribution service offered by our colleagues in Research Teaching and Learning (RTL). Please connect with them, and they can help you get started. Please note that The Disabled Students Program (DSP) can only support captioning when a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) is required for a UC Berkeley student. 
  • Or, you may use an established UCB vendor like 3Play Media to professionally caption your lecture. (See 3Play pricing and steps for setting up your purchase order.)
  • Or, you may edit the YouTube automatic captions. (See YouTube automatic caption editing instructions.)
  • Or, you may set all your videos to “private” if not intended for public viewing.

Frequently asked questions

Who uses captions?

  • People who are Deaf, or Deafblind
  • People who are hard of hearing
  • People with auditory processing disorders
  • Visual learners
  • People who want to to improve retention of information
  • People in quiet environments with the sound off
  • People in noisy environments
  • People who are learning to speak English

What’s the difference between captions and subtitles?

  • Captions include all of the sounds in video recordings, including speech, music/lyrics, and noises. They are in the same language as the speech in the recording. They should be displayed on screen and be perfectly synchronized with the audio.
  • Subtitles are not the same as captions, but you may see “subtitles” used incorrectly in a lot of places (ahem, YouTube). Subtitles are a translation of spoken dialog. They are displayed on screen and do not include background sounds.

How come when I watch the news, the captions are delayed?

Live media has different requirements. When news shows are live, there’s no way for the transcriptionist to type fast enough for the text to be synchronized with the speech.

What are audio descriptions?

An audio description is an extra audio file that’s added to a video to describe what is happening on the screen for viewers who are Blind or have low vision.

YouTube does not yet have a way to add audio descriptions. This is why it’s a best practice to always describe the content of slides when you’re giving a presentation.

If your video has important visual content that isn’t described, a work-around may be to provide a written description.

What do I do if my video, created after 12/2/2022 has color contrast issues or relies on color vision to understand it?

This may be difficult to remediate. Here are some options:

  • First, is the content described verbally? If yes, then your content may still be accessible.
  • If you can, remediate the original presentation (slides) and link to it.
  • Consider adding a timestamp and a written description to the description area below the video.
  • Please contact if you have any questions or need a consultation.

Are there any tutorials?



Who can I contact for more help?

More resources

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