I’m questioning the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guideline 1.0 on captioning when it comes to “talking head” videos. I think the transcript of the video in XHTML format is more useful than the caption. In fact, I think captioning conflicts with the guideline to make sure users have control of time-based multimedia. Ever tried to read the captions flying by on the screen? Talk about a time sensitive flow of information!
- WCAG 1.0 Checkpoint 1.4
For any time-based multimedia presentation (e.g., a movie or animation), synchronize equivalent alternatives (e.g., captions or auditory descriptions of the visual track) with the presentation.
- WCAG 1.0 Guideline 7.
Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes.
My recommendation for providing equivalent alternatives would be:
- provide the transcript of the presentation in XHTML
- provide synchronized captions with the presentation when the transcript alone does not adequately convey the meaning
For most “talking head” videos (a video where you just see the head of the person speaking), the transcript provided in XHTML gives the user far more access to the content of what was said in the video. Just like there is an art to writing alt, there is an art to captioning. Trust us with the decision to determine when a video needs to be captioned versus when it just needs to be transcribed!
Confession: I’ve been forcing myself to transcribe/caption multimedia content recently, rather than finding some other innocent victim to do it for me. I consider it penance for recent inaccessible content I’ve been party to. But, to my delight, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and even had a bit of fun. I never said I was normal.
So compadres, what do you think?