Making A Compliant Video

The following guidelines will help you ensure your video complies with the standards required in section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Click the links provided below for more information.


The Right Video Footage: Videos must have easy-to-watch footage. Rule of thumb: make sure that your video does not contain any flashing, strobing, “roller coaster motions,” or flickering elements that may cause discomfort, dizziness, or nausea to viewers with cognitive disabilities.

Audio Guidance, Captions, and Descriptions: Videos must be accessible to hearing-impaired or visually-impaired viewers.

  • Spoken words are presented at a higher volume than any background sound, noise or music.
  • Provide a written transcript (.doc, .docx) for the video describing overall summary and content.
  • Include subtitles embedded in the video. Subtitles are synced to the video and audio.
  • Captions can be provided as “closed” (turned on or off by a viewer directly in the video), or “open” (embedded in the video and can’t be controlled by viewer). They describe the scene, without including the transcription of any audio. (“Fred enters the room, looking fearful.”)

Color and Font for Subtitles: There is no standard size for captions—they vary based on the size of your video player window. But, make them at least 9 point text: if you must squint to read your captions, the font size is too small. It’s hard to read white captions on a white background, or black captions on a black background. Instead, use high-contrast color combinations, such as black letters on a solid white background or white letters on a solid black background. Framing white letters in black on a dark background is ideal.

Navigation: 508-compliant videos have operation capability by keyboard (instead of the mouse) or via voice command through particular video players. Users can “tab” or “enter” or use other keys to fast-forward, stop, pause, and play the video using only their keyboard. Some users use voice commands to control their computer (for example, the user would say “click play” and the video would play). These features are available the recommended video players commonly used by federal agencies:

To guarantee video compliancy, consider testing your video in one of the above after exporting; send a final file format in .mp4, .wmv, or other standard video file, with captions, transcription, and description included as separate files or embedded in the video accordingly.

For further information, please read these Section 508 Compliance Policies on

  • § 1194.24   Video and multimedia products,
  • § 1194.25   Self-contained, closed products,
  • § 1194.31   Functional performance criteria, and
  • § 1194.41   Information, documentation, & support