Provide ASL interpretation of video

A speaker on TV with an ASL interpreter
Image description: A cartoon character speaking on TV behind a podium with a smaller ASL interpreter screen on the lower righthand corner. The podium speaker says, โ€œK!โ€ And the interpreter makes the ASL sign for the letter K.

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Why This is Important

ASL interpretation is accessible to Deaf and Hard of hearing people who understand ASL.

Blind and visually impaired people use screen readers to interact with websites and apps. A screen reader is a type of assistive tech that converts things on screen to audio and/or braille. It's important that things are understandable and interactive to screen readers.

Keyboard accessibility is essential for people who do not use a computer mouse (which might be because they have unpredictable or very specific movement due to a motor disability). Many Blind and visually impaired people also use keyboard interactions in order to use their screen reader.

Error support is accessible to people with a diversity of disabilities. A cognitive disability might affect how a person perceives and understands things. A physical disability might lead to unpredictable movement. Other factors such as environment, stress, and multi-tasking may also lead to errors.

In order to be accessible, gestures and interactions must account for people with physical and motor disabilities, who might have unpredictable or very specific movement.

Because ASL can provide emotion and intonation, it often creates a richer experience than text captions alone.

However, it's worth noting that there are various dialects of ASL, that ASL education is not widely available, and not all Deaf/HoH people are fluent in it. The nuances of Deaf culture should be taken into account when implementing this.

This references WCAG criterion 1.2.6 Sign Language (Prerecorded) (Level AAA)

Level AAA compliance is considered more difficult to meet because it requires more resources to fulfill. It also might encompass conflicting access needs (meaning what is accessible to some might be inaccessible to others). Use your best judgment of your target audience and your team's capabilities to determine if this is a pragmatic goal to reach.

How to Implement This

Adding ASL interpretation to a video usually involves embedding a second video stream, either a split screen or (more typically) a smaller video overlay in the corner.

ASL video production

There are various services that offer adding ASL interpretation to videos. Here are some examples:

Since this is a visual language, it's important that the video quality is clear and background is not distracting. Here are tips for recording and live streaming video with ASL:

This guide explains how to overlay video using HTML5: Adding Sign Language to HTML5 video

Hire ASL interpreters

ASL interpretation is a highly involved skill that requires proper compensation (make sure to pay your interpreters and give them the resources and rest they need!) Here are a few directories where you can find and hire interpreters.

Some ASL interpreter FAQ's and things to keep in mind:

Note: Small businesses can get tax credits for the expense of an interpreter. A small business is one with 30 or fewer employees OR with $1 million or less in gross receipts for the preceding tax year.

Interesting further reading

Black ASL


Content about Deaf experiences

How to Test This

Manual Test
Semi-Automated Test
Automated Test

If there is video with audio content that requires interpretation, check for the presence ASL interpretation. Consult an ASL expert for accuracy.


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