1. Accessibility & Legislation
  2. Common Issues
  3. Testing & Tools
  4. Analysing Your Site

2.01.10 Text equivalents: Multimedia

Multimedia content

Definition: A combination of media types presenting information in more than one format, such as text, audio, video, graphics, and images.

Multimedia elements require text equivalents too. Unlike the previous examples, no use is made of the alt attribute. Instead use a choice or mixture of:

It is important to be able to distinguish between:

  1. Where the multimedia is the content.
  2. Where the multimedia enhances the content.

The simplest method to make an audio-visual piece accessible is to provide a text transcript in a nonproprietary format such as a .rtf or .txt

The text transcript should reflect the important information in the media piece. This is not always a simple task and usually involves good judgment.

The correct method is to add captioning to the media itself. An example of captioning and signing from the Disability Rights Commission (DRC).

The annoying thing

This is alternative content.

Permissions granted by copyright holder:
Erik Wernquist at Turboforce 3d

What would make an appropriate alternative for "The annoying thing"?


So what can be done?

It should be remembered that it is not only the visually impaired who may not see the piece, but also those with hearing disabilities may not hear it, and finally those without the media plug-in will get nothing at all.

Best practice approach

The best-practice approach would be to add alternate versions utilising audio descriptions, sub-titles, captioning and signing.

There is a good example of this on the DRC website

A pragmatic approach

Add a link to a text transcript of the multimedia piece.

This should take the form of a description of who said what, and any important information that is purely visual.

An example of this may be found on the Genetic Futures website the script is at the bottom of the page on the right.

Flash websites

While Macromedia's Flash is becoming more accessible it still has a way to go.

Explaining how to make it accessible is beyond todays session though the ideas presented here still apply.

The simplest solution, for those experiencing difficulties using the site, may be to make a text-only version available for download.

Further information

NCAM: Rich Media Accessibility.

Joe Clark: Best practices in online captioning.

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