Burned in Captions

Suzanne_Wakim Member
edited September 2019 in CCC Accessibility Center
I have 2 questions about burned-in captions.  I know they are not fully accessible. 

My main question is "why".  The best answer I've found online is that the text might be fuzzy because it doesn't scale well.  Is this the main reason or is there something else?

Can an instructor use these for videos in a class?  These don't pass higher levels of accessibility standards, but are they OK enough to pass the basic threshold?  I'm asking particularly about a history of TV class where many of the video clips are from old shows.


  • severa
    severa Member
    edited August 2019

    great question. ada has some rules that count for compliance. among them are font (ie non-serif), punctuation, speaker identification, surrounding sounds, both upper and lower case, slang identification, time sync, etc. being someone who uses cc, I've noticed that old videos are definitely much more difficult to understand due especially to the lack of speaker identification, caption placement, and lack of time sync (sync was pretty difficult before digitization of video and was still hard even after that, tho its gotten pretty bulletproof recently). Older ones are also often all upper case, tho this isn't so difficult for me; it may be for others.
    I can't speak for how much is not good enough, just offering examples of things other than fuzziness (most old captioning is big enough to make that moot).
  • Nicolas
    Nicolas Member
    edited September 2019
    Hello Suzanne,
    G93: Providing open (always visible) captions is a sufficient technique for meeting the WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded).
    As long as the captions are clear and "do not obscure or obstruct relevant information in the video", the burned-in captions are an acceptable way of making the videos accessible.
    For example, if the videos are for an online course, the font for the captions should be around 12 points.  When the video is magnified by 200%, the captions should still be clear and the relevant video content not obscured or obstructed.
    You may also want to review How to Produce WCAG-Compliant Video Captions and Audio Descriptions from 3Play Media.
    Best regards,
  • Sheryl
    Sheryl Member
    edited September 2019
    Hi Suzanne 

    Burned-in captions are not accessible to screen readers as they are not recognized as text. This makes them highly inaccessible.

    Whether to use them in class is dependent on your audience but I would ensure you have a transcript available.

    I'm happy to discuss this further if you would like.

    Kind regards
  • Suzanne_Wakim
    Suzanne_Wakim Member
    edited September 2019
    Thank you to all who replied.  A follow-up question:  Why would screen readers need to access captions?  The audio is available via the video.  What added functionality would the screen reader provide?  Thank you for helping me work through this information.
  • Sheryl
    Sheryl Member
    edited September 2019
    Hi Suzanne

    Captions should be providing more information than just the audio. Captions should give information on what is visibly happening on the screen, expressions, movements, etc. This is information that cannot be garnered from the audio alone.

    Kind regards
  • Sean_Keegan
    Sean_Keegan Member
    edited September 2019
    Hi Suzanne,

    In terms of the accessibility standards, in this case WCAG 2.0, the on-screen captions are intended to provide a basic level of access for an individual who is deaf or hard-of-hearing.

    That said, having access to the text equivalent of the media presentation, whether it be just the transcript of the audio information or a transcript of the audio information plus text descriptions of on-screen activity, can provide other avenues by which individuals with varying needs or disabilities can access the content. For example, a transcript of the audio information plus descriptions of visual activities may provide a far greater level of access to intent and meaning of the media presentation rather than just a transcript.

    So, to meet the WCAG 2.0 requirement, captions are required for pre-recorded media. These can be burned-in or can be toggled on or off. Provided that they are clear and do not obstruct content, then that is necessary to meet the standard.
    Hope this helps.