Transcripts for Audio and Video

A transcript is a written or printed version of a material originally presented in another medium, such as audio and/or video files. Transcripts are often used to provide an alternative way to access information.  It is essential for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, but they can also make content more accessible to a wider audience.

Including transcripts with your audio or video content has the following benefits:

  • Accessible information for individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing
  • Better comprehension for individuals who are non-native English speakers or those who prefer reading
  • Access to content in diverse environments­–including areas with low bandwidth internet connections, noisy places where audio cannot be heard, or quiet spaces where a video/audio recording would be disruptive
  • Searchable information for improved user experience and link inclusion to other relevant material 

Best Practices

Creating a written audio/video script before recording can vastly reduce the time and effort it takes to create a transcript. In addition, the following tips will help to clarify information presented in your transcript.


Include visual information in audio

If you are recording audio/video to share with others, be sure to describe physical actions and visuals so those listening understand the context, especially if you are recording a face-to-face class. For example:

  • Describe presentation slides. For instance, instead of saying “We can see the peak here on the slide,” say “The graph indicates that the peak time of turning in assignments on Blackboard is 11:58 p.m.”
  • Repeat key information. Be sure to repeat audience questions so they are heard in the recording.
  • Describe actions. Narrate any notable reactions from the class like, “Five to ten students raised their hands,” or, “People look confused so I am going to go over this problem set again.”


Add context in writing

Additional written information is often needed to add clarity to a transcript. For example:

  • Include speakers’ names. This is especially important if there is more than one speaker. For instance, “[Student] Is this a take home exam? [Professor Smith] Yes, the exam is take home.”
  • Explain confusing audio. If there is audio that in undisguisable, like general discussion in small groups, this should be communicated in brackets. For example, “[Professor Smith] Choose a partner and discuss the key points in Chapter 1 [students discuss in pairs].”
  • Describe tone. Communicate relevant details about tone and/or emotion in brackets.  For instance, “[Jane] [fake whisper] I am going to tell you the secret to getting an A in this class.”
  • Include environmental noises. Relevant sounds contribute to the meaning of the video should be indicated in brackets. For instance, “We are about out of time, [class bell rings] so I will continue this topic next week.”
  • Add clarifying information. In instances where information may be unclear, descriptive text should be added in brackets. For instance, “[Naturalist] They [Boreal Owls] are a rare in Ohio.”


Follow basic transcription rules

It is not appropriate to change the meaning of the audio when making a transcription. However, it is common to make minor edits, for example:

  • Edit out filler sounds. Sounds that do not add to the meaning or interrupt dialog, such as “uhs”, “ahs”, and “ums”, can be removed. For most basic transcripts, it is best to use your judgement on how to retain the meaning of the content while making a clearly readable transcript.
  • Remove conjunctions at sentence start. Remove “and” or “but” from the beginning of a speaker’s sentence. For instance, change “And that’s how I ran across the information I needed,” to “That’s how I ran across the information I needed.”
  • Remove false starts. False starts, repetition of sentences, or spontaneous word corrections need not be included in the transcript. For example, change “I think, I think that the advantages of adding a wing to the building are incredible,” to “I think that the advantages of adding a wing to the building are incredible.”


Organize the information

Adding headings to long transcripts can help a reader navigate long blocks of text.  For instance, adding “Introduction, Section I: General Information, etc.” helps a reader navigate the text.


Provide hyperlinks to additional information

One of the benefits of a transcript, is you can include hyperlinks to additional information. For instance, “The guidelines for WCAG 2.0 influence many accessibility policies.” In addition, include a link to the audio or video project the transcript was created for.


Create your transcript in HTML

Make your transcript optimally accessible by creating it in HTML, or within an accessible webpage. This allows search engines to easily navigate the document and ensures people using a screen reader can easily follow the document.


Written for the Accessibility Network by CET&L's Assistant Director.

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