Video and Audio Checklist
Quick Checklist for Video and Audio
Elements of Quality Captions
As adapted from the Described and Captioned Media Program's (DCMP) Captioning Key
- Accurate: Errorless captions are the goal for each production.
- Consistent: Uniformity in style and presentation of all captioning features is crucial for viewer understanding.
- Clear: A complete textual representation of the audio, including speaker identification and non-speech information, provides clarity.
- Readable: Captions are displayed with enough time to be read completely, are in synchronization with the audio, and are not obscured by (nor do they obscure) the visual content.
- Equal: Equal access requires that the meaning and intention of the material is completely preserved.
- Captions appear on-screen long enough to be read, at least one second and usually no more than six seconds.
- No more than two lines per caption.
- Captions are synchronized with spoken words.
- Speakers should be identified when more than one person is on-screen or when the speaker is not visible,
- Punctuation is used to clarify meaning.
- Spelling is correct throughout the production.
- Sound effects are written when they add to understanding.
- All actual words are captioned, regardless of language or dialect.
- Use of slang and accent is preserved and identified.
If Captioning Tool Permits
- Nouns and verbs are not separated from their modifiers.
- Prepositional phrases remain on the same line.
- Italics is effective when a new word is being defined or a word is heavily emphasized in speech.
- Translating speech to text sometimes requires creative use of punctuation, but always remember the rules of good grammar.
- Placement must not interfere with existing visuals/graphics.
- In the case where essential sound effects are used simultaneously with dialogue that is captioned, the captions that identify the sound effects should be placed on the first line.
- When a person is thinking or dreaming, use italicized captions and add a description in brackets, such as the word "thinking" before the captioned thoughts.
- Do not break a person's name nor a title from the name with which it is associated.
- Do not end one sentence and begin a new one on the same line.
- Do not break a modifier from the word it modifies.
- Do not break a line after a conjunction.
- Do not break a prepositional phrase.
- Characters need to be in a non-serif font similar to Helvetica medium, easily readable, and include upper- and lowercase letters.
- Font is usually white letters on a black background.
- Do not caption the same, or nearly the same, information that is already shown onscreen.
- Do not emphasize a word using all capital letters except to indicate screaming.
- Be consistent in the spelling of words throughout the media.
- When captioning music, use objective descriptions that indicate the mood. Avoid subjective words, such as "delightful," "beautiful," or "melodic."
- If music contains lyrics, caption the lyrics verbatim. The lyrics should be introduced with the name of the vocalist/vocal group, the title (in brackets) if known/significant, and if the presentation rate permits.
- Caption lyrics with music icons (♪) if available, or hashtag symbols (#). Use one music icon at the beginning and end of each caption within a song but use two music icons at the end of the last line of a song.
- For background music that is not important to the content of the program, use a single music icon.
- When a speaker is interrupted and another speaker finishes the sentence, the interruption should be conveyed by double hyphens or a single long dash.
- When a speaker stutters, caption what is said.
- Use an ellipsis when there is a significant pause within a caption.
- Beginning quotation marks should be used for each caption of quoted material except for the last caption. The last caption should have only the ending quotation mark.
- Use italics to indicate an offscreen voice-over reading, when a person is dreaming, thinking, or reminiscing, offscreen dialogue.
- A description of sound effects, in brackets, should include the source of the sound unless the source of the sound is visible onscreen.
- Include onomatopoeia when possible.
- Caption background sound effects only when they're essential to the plot.
- Use specific rather than vague, general terms to describe sounds.
- When a speaker’s name is known, the speaker's name should be in brackets.
- When a speaker’s name is unknown, identify the speaker using the same information a hearing viewer has (e.g., [FEMALE #1], [MALE NARRATOR]).
- If there is only one narrator, identify as [MALE NARRATOR] or [FEMALE NARRATOR] at the beginning of the media. It is not necessary to identify gender for each caption thereafter.
- When an actor is portraying another person or character, identify the actor as the person being portrayed.
- Caption the actual foreign words. If it is not possible to caption the words, use a description (e.g., [SPEAKING FRENCH]). Never translate into English.
- Indicate regional accent at the beginning of the first caption, if known.
- Keep the flavor of dialect and the speaker's language.
- When a word is spoken phonetically, caption it the way it is commonly written.