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Accessible (508) Video/Multimedia Content

Document Type: Standard


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.


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

In closed captioning, the captions are hidden to most viewers and are decoded for people needing the captioning.

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


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.