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Accessibility (Section 508) and Video/Multimedia Content


[x] Standard


[x] Accessibility/508

[x] Multimedia & New Media


HHS must caption all videos and multimedia files, including all formats—over the air broadcast, CD or DVD, and Web multimedia (such as video podcasts, webcasts, Flash, or other animation), whether produced internally or externally, including video produced by partners if federal funds are used. It is not permissible to provide stand-alone transcripts in lieu of video captioning.

The captioning requirement covers videos intended for training or for public service announcements (PSAs).


Section 508 requires an equivalent experience for all users. Users should be able to follow the dialog and action in a multimedia file as it occurs. Captions—whether open or closed—must be timed to coincide with those events as they occur. (Such timing is not possible with standalone transcripts.) Where multimedia files are visual only and do not contain sound, such as in scientific models, users should be provided with an appropriate description to understand what is occurring.



In some cases, videos are provided to illustrate a scientific model, such as in the example below. (In this example, there is no audio component.) In those cases, the video is not multimedia as defined in Section 508 and may be treated as an image—that is, provided with a detailed description so that users understand what is being shown.

Requirements (content & style):

For purposes of this standard, open captioning is defined as having the words visible on the screen, such as in the example below.

In closed captioning, the captions are hidden to most viewers and are decoded for people needing the captioning, such as in the example below.

For more information, HHS video captioning guidance provides information on compliance and contract support for different types of video captioning.

Related Standards:

Provide File Type and Size with Downloadable Files

Related Guidelines:

YouTube Guidance

Video captioning guidance

Standard Icons

Image Library


Use synchronized captioning for all videos with audio.

Provide detailed text descriptions for video with visuals only.