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Video and audio

Offer options if a recording consists of audio or video only. People who are unable to clearly perceive or understand sound or cannot partake of the visual content of video recordings can in many cases assimilate the content if it is in text format.

Accessible to all 

Under the law on accessibility of digital public services, film and audio must be made available to all. 

Digital accessibility - requirements and opportunities

The requirements for recorded video apply to materials published from 23 September 2020.

Users who cannot access audio or video recordings must have an option to assimilate the content by means of an alternative representation. This may be, for example, a script (a text) that is edited to reflect the actual content of the recording. For sound recordings (from a pod for example), a transcription of the content is a common method of making the content accessible. 

The law requires: offer an alternative if a recording consists of audio or video only (in Swedish)  

Subtitle film and audio recordings 

Recorded digital video should have subtitles (also called captions) and for audio recordings (such as podcasts) etc., a text version should be offered. 

The law requires: subtitle recorded mobile media (Webbriktlinjer, in Swedish)

Why it is smart to subtitle 

  • Over 1.5 million people in Sweden have a hearing impairment. Most need subtitles so as to understand what is being said. 

  • People who hear well can also benefit from subtitles in places with a lot of background noise and in situations when the sound cannot be turned on. 

  • 90 per cent of people who check social media videos have the sound muted. 

  • People with another first language can understand films more easily if they are subtitled. 

  • Subtitles increase searchability on the web. Words and phrases in the subtitles help Google to match searches with your video so that more people find it. 

  • Studies show that subtitles create a higher level of engagement among viewers. 

Offer closed captions for digital video 

Open captions are visible to everyone. The user can decide whether or not to display closed captions. In some cases, they can also be read aloud by screen readers. Closed captions are thus preferred in digital contexts. Sometimes the user can also choose translation, font, subtitle placing etc. 

Describe all sounds of importance 

Subtitles should, in addition to dialogue, describe other sounds of importance, such as "telephone rings" or "someone coughs". Subtitles do not generally need to be verbatim, the important thing is that they convey the same information. 

Feel free to offer a separate text version 

A transcription (a document that contains all of the recording's subtitles) or another text description of the content allows people using screen readers or Braille readers to absorb the content at their own pace. 

A transcription of the film is also good for search engine optimisation because it provides an opportunity for search engines and other tools to interpret the content. 

The text should contain descriptions of environments, explanations or comments that can be useful in understanding the context. For example, this may be someone who laughs on the film or turns and moves towards a certain direction. 

If the subtitles are in a separate file (rather than encoded in the film's image information), the texts can be automatically extracted and presented as a transcription.  

Guides for video subtitling

Audio description of video recordings 

Those who cannot partake of the visual content of video recordings, for example due to visual impairment, should be able to obtain the corresponding information either 

  • in the form of an audio description or 

  • presented as text, so that it can be read aloud by screen readers. 

The law requires: Use audio description or offer alternatives to video recordings (in Swedish)

Arrange for an audio description if it is necessary for people with limited vision to be able to understand the content. Sometimes it is possible to plan a recording so that a separate version with audio description is not necessary. It may be enough for people who will speak to start by presenting themselves or for lecturers to describe any presentation images in words. 

The law requires: audio description of video recordings (Webbriktlinjer, in Swedish)

Text live transmissions 

The law exempts live transmissions, but if the transmission can be accessed retrospectively it counts as a recording after 14 days and is not exempted. This means that the recording must be subtitled after 14 days. 

The law requires: text live transmissions (Webbriktlinjer, in Swedish)

Audio recordings and video without audio 

Offer a text-based script or other presentation that does not exclude users who are not able to perceive the recording. 

Inform the user that there are different options 

For example, users who find one presentation through a search engine need to be informed that the other version exists. Alternative presentation formats can be of great importance for searchability, but only if it appears that they are alternative presentations of the same thing. 

You can do that by inserting a link to alternative formats (or making it accessible in other ways) in the places where the video occurs. By linking to the video from the text version, you will also enable the user to find the video.

The text should be called text version for clarity and consistency.

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Page responsible:Sara Öhman
Belongs to: KTH Intranet
Last changed: Jan 04, 2023