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Captions are text representations of the audio content of multimedia and video, including narration, dialogue, sound effects, and other audio information that are displayed in sync with the audio track. Captioning content is a means of providing access to multimedia and video that individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing may otherwise not have access to. Captions may also benefit individuals who are learning English as a second language, and provide increased comprehension and retention of material for all users


The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act was passed by Congress to update telecommunications protections for people with disabilities, specifically to ensure that accessibility laws keep pace with broadband technologies.

Captions can be integrated into multimedia as a user-selectable option (closed) or permanently recorded along with the main audio or video (open). Closed captions may be toggled on and off by the user in a preferences or settings menu or with a button on the player interface. Open captions are always on and cannot be turned off.


  • Plan the inclusion of captions during the scripting and production of the video or multimedia.
  • Follow accepted captioning guidelines, see DCMP Captioning Key
  • Use a supported markup format such as SMIL or SAMI to integrate captions into multimedia presentations and videos posted on websites.


Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

NCAM Multimedia Guidelines


Recommendations and suggestions from the AccessIT Community