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Make your Digital Media Projects Accessible

1. Create high-quality audio

Use low background audio

  • If you are including background music, set the levels so people with hearing or cognitive disabilities can easily distinguish the speaker from the background music. Make the background sounds at least 20 decibels lower than the foreground.
  • Avoid sounds that can be distracting or irritating (e.g., high pitches).

Speak clearly and slowly

  • Speak slowly, as this will enable listeners to understand better, and provide better timing for captions and sign language if needed.
  • Pause between topics to give listeners time to process information. 

Use clear language

  • Avoid or explain jargon, acronyms, and idioms.
  • Provide redundancy for sensory characteristics to make information available to those with low-vision or colour blindness.
    • For example, instead of saying “put it on the blue side”, say “put the file on the blue side, which is the left side of the screen”.

2. Create a transcript

Transcripts are a text version of the speech and include relevant non-speech sounds (e.g., baby cries, door swings open, etc.).

Make sure the transcript is somewhere where it is easy for listeners to find

  • If your audio is on a website, include the transcript or a link to the transcript on the same page below the audio.
  • If your audio is hosted elsewhere, include a link to your transcript in the description of your audio.
  • If you are submitting your audio as an assignment, ensure you submit your transcript at the same time as the audio file.

Best practices for transcribing audio

  • Identify speakers when relevant. Often it is best to use the full name of a speaker the first time they’re introduced, then use a single name for the rest of the transcript (first or last).
  • Put non-speech sounds in square brackets. For example: [keyboard keys clicking].
  • Only indicate background music or non-speech sounds if it is essential to understanding the content of the audio. Sounds added just to embellish the audio should not be transcribed.
  • Transcribe accurately and honestly. Do not change, adapt, or add to the text. Do not change words or phrasing to correct any grammatical errors or censor any inappropriate language.

Commercial transcription tools

Free options for transcribing your audio

Google docs:

  • Enable the Voice Typing feature in google docs from the Tools menu. Leave it open while you record your podcast or play your pre-recorded audio into the tool.
  • Google docs will transcribe everything you say, although its accuracy depends on the quality of the recording.
  • Ensure you proof-read your transcript.


  • Convert your audio file to an MP4 file and upload it to YouTube. Use YouTube’s transcribe feature to generate automatic captions for your audio. The longer your video is, the longer it will take for automatic captions to generate.
  • Keep in mind that the voice to text technology is not always accurate, which is why it is important to proofread and edit the transcription.
  • Download your automated captions by going to Video Subtitles > Options > Download, then select your preferred file format.

YouTube video subtitles menu highlighting a published automatic selection and then highlighting the options for download optionsThree YouTube subtitle download options are available in the following file formats: vtt, srt, and sbv

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