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Web Accessibility Guidelines for Videos

A new AODA requirement for Ontario websites will come into force on January 1st, 2021. Under the Information and Communications Standards, organizations must make their websites and web-based apps accessible. Organizations  must do so by making their websites compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities. Some of these guidelines outline how to make web-based video content accessible to a variety of users. Here we will describe a few of these web accessibility guidelines for videos.

Web Accessibility Guidelines for Videos

Captions for Pre-Recorded Videos

Web designers must provide captions for any audio content in their videos.

Audio Description or Alternative

Designers must also ensure access to the visual elements of their videos. For instance, they can do so by providing audio descriptions. Alternatively, they can create text transcripts that include both audio and visual elements.

There is a WCAG guideline for web designers to provide audio description for all visual content in videos. However, the AODA does not require designers to follow this guideline. Instead, designers can choose to implement this guideline as a best practice. Alternatively, they can make visual elements accessible in a different way. In other words, designers have the freedom to choose how they provide access to the visual elements of videos. However, they are required to make these elements accessible.


If video content is an alternative for text content, designers do not need to provide captions or descriptions.

Advanced Requirements

The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance on how to implement them. The AODA only requires websites to follow guidelines in version 2.0, level AA. However, the WCAG webpage provides guidelines at level AAA. In addition, the page also includes new guidelines added in Version 2.1. For example, some additional guidelines for making online videos accessible are:

  • Sign language interpretation for pre-recorded audio content
  • Extended audio description
  • Alternatives for pre-recorded videos that are time-based

While websites do not need to follow these guidelines, they can choose to follow them as a best practice. Websites that follow more guidelines have the chance to welcome more visitors and do more online business.