Introduction & Overview
Types of Captioning
Be clear about what type(s) of captioning is needed and ask questions about each. Four basic categories are:
- Human captions for recorded video
- Human captions for live video
- Auto-captions for recorded video
- Auto-captions for live video
Understand how captions integrate with your video conferencing platform
- Consider all platforms on which the video will appear (including YouTube, corporate intranet, etc.)
- Does each platform offer built-in auto-captions? (i.e. Teams / Google Meet)
- Does each platform require / allow for external captions? (human or auto)
- If video is being recorded and then posted, do the captions from a live (virtual) event travel with the saved video? (If not, transcript or second set of captions needed for posted recorded video)
- Disability:IN resource: Purchasing and Licensing Accessible Video Conferencing Platforms that Work for Everyone
Caption Quality Issues
- Caption quality relates to:
- Vendor resource from 3Play Media: FCC’s Quality Standards for Captioning Video (See also 3Play Media’s RFP questions related to Caption Quality.)
- Resource from National Association of the Deaf: Closed Captioning Quality
- Ensure that platform, integration systems, caption controls and profile settings, etc. are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities who may be
- Relying on captions
- Arranging, setting up, or trouble shooting captioning for the organization
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines relating to captioning (note: other success criteria apply to the platforms, video controls, etc.)
- Turn-around time for captions / transcripts on recorded video
- Hours of operation for emergency services / tech support / help desk
- Details for uploading files for captioning / transcription (See 3Play Media RFP questions below related to online account systems and process and deliverables.)
- Ability to correct captions/transcripts
Other Video Accessibility and Inclusion Elements Related to Transcripts and Captions
- Audio description (providing audio information about video elements for blind people)
- Can captioning /transcript vendor provide?
- Resource: Audio Description Project of the American Council of the Blind
- WCAG accessibility requirements: Audio Description (pre-recorded), Success Criteria 1.2.5
- Sign language interpreter
- Can captioning /transcript vendor provide?
- Language support / translation
- What language/s are available for captions / transcription?
- How does translation integrate with captions?
- Harvard / National Association of the Deaf captioning settlement (p.3, definition of captioning)
- Disability:IN resource: COVID-19 Response: Digital Accessibility and Other Best Practices for Remote Work
- Disability:IN resource: Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit
Suggested RFP Questions (focus on human captions for recorded video)
Brought to you by:
- Company background and qualifications.
- Experience providing the services requested in the RFP.
Process and Deliverables
- Describe the methods you support for submitting media files for transcription/captioning.
- Describe the output formats you provide for transcripts and caption/subtitle files.
- Describe your turnaround options and SLA.
- Ability to create captions by synchronizing an existing transcript with the video.
- Ability to output a video with encoded captions or open captions.
- Interactive transcript that is compatible with multiple video players and LMS systems.
- Ability to caption YouTube videos owned by a third party.
- Transcripts and captions must be at least 99% accurate. Describe your accuracy guaranty.
- Explain how you measure accuracy.
- Expertise transcribing technical and academic content. Describe tools and processes to address this.
- Speakers should be clearly identified.
- Must include sound effects and non-speech elements.
- A single transcriptionist must work on a file from beginning to end. Files should not be split up and worked on by numerous transcriptionists. Please explain your process.
- What countries or geographic region does your work take place in? Please provide percentages of work completed by country/region. Do you have the ability to exclude certain countries or regions from an engagement?
Online Account System
- Allows for delivery of transcripts and caption files.
- Upload approval: allows an authorized person to approve files before processing begins.
- Provides notifications of completed files.
- Stores all past work.
- Allows for a technical vocabulary with product names, people, or special instructions to be submitted for each file or a group of files.
- Ability to cancel files that were submitted erroneously.
- Detects if duplicate files were submitted by mistake.
- Provides the ability to preview captions on a video.
- Allows admin users to make edits to captions or the transcript.
- Allows the caption frame to be configured (e.g. number of lines, max characters per line, minimum display duration, and max characters per second). Supports multiple users and access control.
- Allows multiple departments to compartmentalize content, users, and billing.
- Provides usage reports of all account activity.
- Allows non-admins to make edits to captions/transcripts in a secure manner without logging in?
- Line item detail for each submitted file.
- Access to past invoices and payment status.
- Ability to aggregate invoices across multiple departments.
- Describe your integrations with video platforms.
- Describe your integrations with cloud storage systems.
- Describe your Application Programming Interface (API).
- Price for creating captions and transcripts for different turnarounds.
- Price for creating a caption file from an existing transcript.
- Minimum charges for any services.
- Additional charges for speaker identification.
- Bulk discounts.
- Audio description.
- Languages supported for captioning/transcription.
- Translation to other languages.
- Live captioning.
- Customer support, including phone support and a ticketing system.
- Knowledge center with support articles and video tutorials.
- Caption placement service that adjusts the position of captions to avoid obstructing existing onscreen text.
Purchasing and Licensing Accessible Video Conferencing Platforms that Work for Everyone
When purchasing or licensing video conferencing platforms, always keep in mind that people with disabilities may be participating as audience members, speakers, screen sharers, anyone using chat functionality, or administrators. An accessible platform will work for people in all these roles.
Please note: This resource provides information about purchasing and licensing accessible video conferencing platforms. It is not intended as legal advice.
Questions to Ask Vendors
Have a serious conversation with potential vendors about product accessibility. These questions can help you get started:
- What are the captioning and sign language capabilities of the platform?
- If there is auto-captioning, what is the accuracy rate?
- Is captioning built in [auto-captioning / AI / text to speech] or does an external live captioner have to be hired?
- If a live captioner must be hired or is desired, what is the process to integrate captions
- Can participants pin a sign language interpreter on their screen so they are always in view?
- What languages are captions available in?
- If there are break-out rooms, how do captions work in those rooms (ie do all participants who need captions have to be in one room, can there be more than one captioner, etc.)
- Has the platform been tested for accessibility?
- What testing was done and what standard was used?
- Were disabled people involved with the testing and if so how?
- Will the vendor allow you to undertake your own testing?
- What features and functionality were tested?
- Ask for a copy of testing results, including known bugs and remediation roadmap
- Does this product meet international accessibility standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA, Section 508 (USA), Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines, EN 301 549 (EU). What are the known aspects (if any) that do not meet standards? Is there a roadmap to address?
- Is there a VPAT (voluntary product accessibility template) and an ACR Accessibility Conformance Report for this product (required for any product sold to US federal government and other public entities). If so, ask to see a copy and review carefully.
Sample Contract Language
For other ideas on contract language for accessibility, see the section in Disability:IN’s Accessible Procurement Toolkit titled “Build Accessibility Obligations into Purchase Documents”
Please note: The Accessible Procurement Toolkit, like this document, is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Sample contract language is for general guidance only and is not a substitute for consulting with lawyers and other procurement experts.
Accessibility of Platform
#The Parties have discussed the accessibility needs of people who are deaf, blind, hard of hearing, or have mobility or cognitive disabilities and who may be using [PLATFORM NAME] as meeting attendees, organizers, speakers or administrators. [VENDOR NAME] will ensure that [PLATFORM NAME] is accessible to and usable by people with disabilities by meeting the contract obligations set forth in this section.
Accessibility laws and standards.
#[VENDOR NAME] will ensure that all features and functions of [PLATFORM NAME] conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.1 Conformance Level AA and [list any other applicable laws and accessibility standards] at the time the [PLATFORM NAME] is delivered to [COMPANY NAME] and throughout the term of this contract/license.
#All product revisions, updates, patches, and new releases will conform to the accessibility laws and standards set forth in this section. [VENDOR NAME] will include information about accessibility improvements, as applicable, in the release notes for each new product release and update.”
Captioning and sign language capabilities.
[This section should specify how captions will be provided in the product so there is no misunderstanding. If the platform only has captioning support, but the company has to hire an outside captioner, that should be stated. If the platform has built in AI, text-to speech, live captions, that should be specified. Vendor should agree to the accuracy rate of live AI captions.
Available captioning language (i.e. English, Spanish) and who is responsible for providing languages other than English should also be specified.
Details about using captioning in break-out rooms
Accessibility Testing and Remediation prior to delivery
[VENDOR NAME] will conduct automated and manual accessibility testing of [PRODUCT NAME] throughout the development process. At least 90 days before [PRODUCT NAME] is delivered to [COMPANY NAME] results of such testing will be provided to [COMPANY NAME]. All accessibility barriers identified in the testing report will be remediated prior to delivery date.
#[VENDOR NAME] will conduct usability testing of [PRODUCT NAME] with people with disabilities including people who use screen readers, need closed captioning, and cannot use a mouse. At a minimum, usability testing will be conducted on the following features of [PRODUCT NAME]: closed captions, screen sharing, log-in, and chat.
#The results of such testing will be provided to [COMPANY NAME] at least 90 days before [PRODUCT NAME] is delivered to [COMPANY NAME]. All accessibility barriers identified during usability testing will be remediated prior to delivery date.
Accessibility testing at time of delivery
#[VENDOR NAME] will conduct manual and automated testing immediately prior to product delivery. Results of such testing shall be provided to [COMPANY NAME]. [PRODUCT NAME] may be refused at [COMPANY NAME’S] discretion if identified accessibility barriers cannot be remediated within [SPECIFY TIME PERIOD] of delivery.
[Another option here is to state that the parties will work in good faith to develop an enforceable timeline to remediate any barriers identified in testing results at time of delivery. Failure to reach agreement would be handled as a breach, or could give company right to refuse acceptance of product.] [Another option here is for the company to conduct its own testing, with the vendor responsible for remediating any barriers, or for an identified third party to conduct testing.
Accessibility barriers identified during the term of the contract
[Specify a reporting and response process for remediating accessibility barriers identified during the contract term. Process should include time frame for remediation, responsibility for remediation work and cost, responsibility for any interim work-arounds and their cost.]
[VENDOR NAME] agrees to indemnify [COMPANY NAME] against losses or damages that may occur as a result of failure to meet the accessibility provisions of this contract. Losses and damages may include but are not limited to, attorneys’ fees and costs and damages that [COMPANY NAME] may incur as a result of a lawsuit or legal claim brought by a person with a disability concerning the accessibility of [PLATFORM NAME].
Breach of accessibility provisions
[Specify consequences if product is delivered without specified accessibility. Could include monetary payments.]