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Video Captioning Guidance

All HHS Web-hosted videos must be captioned so their information is accessible to all citizens, internal and external. Compliance with Sec. 508 accessibility policy is coming under increasing scrutiny and HHS is committed to both meeting the law and serving all people. The captioning requirement covers:

  •  Video for over-the-air broadcasts and webcast
  •  Live stream and on-demand videos of any length
  •  Public service announcements (PSAs)
  •  Internal training videos
  •  Videos produced internally or externally, including by partners
  •  Video Pod (or Vod) casts (3)
  •  Both internal and external audience

There are two types of captioning. In open captioning, the words are visible on the screen. In closed captioning, the captions are hidden to most viewers and are decoded for people needing the captioning.

Edited videos are captioned from scripts or transcripts. This captioning is 100% accurate. The current contract cost is $165/hour for a 5-7 day turnaround.

Webcasts and other live broadcasts are captioned on the fly and inserted into the video stream as a closed caption service. These must be at least 95% accurate. The current contract cost is $175/hour.

YouTube videos use a .txt file for captioning. This file can come from a live-caption event or from a transcript created by the video producer or client. The .txt file is uploaded with the video file and synchronized with the video.

The HHS Studio no longer creates DVDs or CDs for distribution.

For more information, contact michael.wilker@hhs.gov.  Captioning and encoding are handled simultaneously for webcast or other live broadcasts.


Content last reviewed on November 19, 2014