Considering all the other things we all have on our plates, the extra steps that it takes to make a video, Flash animation, or audio file accessible can feel tedious.
But adding captions or writing a text version is one of those subtle-but-crucial tasks, because it's how we make multimedia files accessible. And "Accessible," in this case, means making your content available to people who may have trouble using your content in the "traditional" way—which includes people with visual, aural, cognitive, or physical challenges.
WebContent.gov has a great page on this, called Thoroughly Modern Multimedia: Make Your Videos, Audio Files, Podcasts, and Other Multimedia Section 508 Compliant and Accessible. It explains why we need to make multimedia files accessible, and goes through the text of Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It calls out all the multimedia-related topics of Section 508 and explains what you need to do to meet them.
EERE's Multimedia Standards includes all of these requirements, so if you follow everything that's required on our updated Multimedia QA Checklist, you should end up with an accessible file.
The only place where we differ from WebContent.gov's recommendations is with the use of text versions. While they suggest including a descriptive audio file with your videos, for example, we use a screen reader-friendly text version.
If you like this article, then never fear! A link has been added to our text version page, where it can serve as a reminder about why it's so important to make sure your multimedia files are as accessible as they can possibly be.