Video, Audio, and Animation Text Versions

For accessibility, Section 508 requires text versions of video, audio, and animations. Text versions are different from alt text, which is required for static images.


Follow these requirements for developing a text version for a video, audio file, or animation.

Writing a Text Version

Text versions should include the following elements:

  • All spoken dialogue
  • A description of all important events and actions that occur in the file
  • Anything displayed visually in the file, such as words or symbols

A visitor should be able to read a text version and understand all of the major themes and messages in a multimedia file.

Audio-Only Files

For an audio-only file, a text version is essentially a transcript. You do not need to include stuttering or filler phrases like "um" and "uhh."


Like an audio-only file, your text version needs to include a complete transcript of everything said in the video.You also need to describe any important action, diagrams, text, or visual cues that appear in the video. Anything that is not crucial to understanding the video content (such as transitional screens or text that's redundant with what the speaker is saying) does not need to be described.


Because most animations include both audio and video content, text versions for animations are similar to video text versions. You should describe all content that is heard or seen in the animation.

Some animations are interactive, which can be difficult to describe in a linear text file. In this case, the content writer will have to decide what information needs to be included to allow a visitor to understand what happens in the animation. You do not need to describe every detail. However, your text version must allow visitors to receive a similar understanding of the content as a user who used the animation.

Posting a Text Version Online

Text versions can be coded two ways.

If your video is posted on a Video page in the Drupal environment, the text version should be posted beneath the video. See "A New Biofuels Technology Blooms in Iowa" for an example.

Otherwise, text versions are coded as separate Web pages. These pages must be formatted with correct headers and intro text, and should include links to the video file. Follow these guidelines for text versions on their own pages:


A text version's header must include:

  • The name of the file the text version was written for
  • The words (Text Version)

Introductory Text

The introductory text should explain that the page is a text version. Link from the introductory text to the page where the original file lives. This will allow visitors who find the page through a search engine to find the original multimedia file.

Linking to a Text Version

Add a link beneath the multimedia file to the text version.

Best Practices

Following these best practices will result in higher quality content.

Use Subheaders to Divide Topics

Use subheaders to break long text version into sections.

Visitors who use screen readers can use subheaders to navigate through a page. Because text versions are designed for these visitors, subheaders help them jump to the part of the text they're interested in.