Descriptive text transcript
A descriptive text transcript is a full text equivalent of the content in a video — that is, of all the meaningful audio and visual information presented in the video.
A descriptive text transcript exists as a text alternative in a separate file, outside of the video file. It can be accessed by search engines and assistive technologies.
A descriptive text transcript is not just a copy of the captions. It includes both the script in the audio track and a description of any meaningful visual content in the video. The idea is that it can be read instead of watching and listening to the video, without losing any of the important information.
For more information on descriptive transcripts, see Transcripts — W3C.
Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard
When a video has a descriptive transcript, this meets WCAG 2:
How a descriptive text transcript makes a video more accessible
Descriptive text transcripts provide access to video content for people who:
- are hearing or visually impaired
- prefer to read, scan or search the text version of the video’s content
- do not have enough mobile data to stream the content.
For people who are deafblind, the descriptive text transcript will be their only access to the content of the video. This enables the content to be translated by braille devices.
How to create a descriptive text transcript
You can use the caption file for the video as the basis for creating the descriptive text transcript.
If the caption file was generated using YouTube.com, download it from the site.
When writing the descriptive text to accompany the dialogue in the video, imagine that you’re writing a screenplay for a film. Make sure to:
- include text descriptions of any and all meaningful visual information communicated in the video
- identify the speaker when speakers change.
The more description you provide, the less need there is for an audio description.
Additional visual information in descriptive text transcripts
In addition to the spoken words and important sounds in the video, a descriptive text transcript includes meaningful visual elements like:
- words that appear on the screen without being spoken — for example, the written words on a sign, like ‘Caution, enter at your own risk’
- where the scene is taking place — for example, in a cave
- who is in the scene and what’s happening — for example, Jane and Rex are climbing a rock wall side by side.