Example of a video with colorful shapes and a text description below
Image description: A video player with a play button in the middle. The caption below says, "4 colorful rectangles (green, purple, blue, and pink) bouncing around on a yellow background." This represents a text description of the visuals in the video.

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Why This is Important

Media alternatives describe all the visual and auditory content to a Blind, Deaf, and Deaf-Blind audience.

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.

A media alternative reads like a screenplay or book. It includes all the visual information (scenery, context, actions, visual descriptions) and auditory information (transcript of all speech and non-speech sounds) in a text format. Media alternatives are accessible to audiences who may not be able to hear audio descriptions well and may not be able to see visuals and captions well - so primarily Blind, Deaf, and Deaf-Blind people.

This references WCAG criterion 1.2.8 Media Alternative (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

Note - Most accessibility techniques related to time-based media refer to audio descriptions, transcripts, and captions. I could not find any resources specifically on creating media alternatives. If you have any suggestions, please reach out in the form below.

How to Test This

Manual Test
Semi-Automated Test
Automated Test

If there is pre-recorded video present, check for the presence of a media alternative (which is formatted like a screenplay or book).


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