All non-textual content require alternative text in order to aid those who cannot see or hear the media. Alternative text also assists in SEO ranking by including important keywords in your audio content. Examples of audio content that need alternative text include, but is not limited to,

  • live / recorded broadcasts
  • podcasts
  • interviews
  • music with lyrics
  • sound effects
  • video with a static (unchanging) image and dialog
  • webinars or chat rooms with audio functionality

Alternative text for audio content comes in the form of a transcript which describes:

  1. who is talking, including cross-talk
  2. what they are saying, including tone of voice when it helps convey the message
  3. any relevant sound and sound effects

Transcribing recorded audio is easy but time consuming. Transcribing live audio require a dedicated transcriber for your event.

Depending on time and budgetary resources, you may either do the transcripts yourself (e.g. your staff, interns, or volunteers) or hire a transcription service to transcribe your audio for you. Contact Web Services for assistance and approved transcription service.

Creating Your Transcript

If you are transcribing your audio content, a good way to do it is to open up a word processor and start typing what you hear, pause and rewind the audio, and keep typing.

An official transcript should include a title of the audio, the date of the recording, and the name of the speaker.

Who is speaking?

If you only have one speaker, you are not require to identify the speaker. Otherwise, distinguishing speakers is done starting with double arrows (>>) (if you are preparing the transcript for conversion to closed captioning), followed by the speaker’s name in uppercase, followed by a colon (:) to start the actual dialog.

For general transcription:

  • MARK:
  • MAN:
  • GIRL:

For closed captions:

  • >> MARK:
  • >> MAN:
  • >> GIRL:

What are they saying?

Make sure you respect the integrity of each speaker and the context of their speech. Unless relevant to the message, avoid eye dialect and sound effects that are not relevant to the context of the message (e.g. police siren heard outside during the recording).

  • Use appropriate punctuation
  • Use the grammar of the speaker (you are not require to correct their speech patterns)
  • Use capitalization on proper nouns, including names and titles
  • Check your spelling
  • Avoid including “uh’s” or coughing unless it is relevant to the context of the message

What else is happening?

Music and sound effects can sometimes be important in creating the tone of the message or telling the story. If the sound is relevant, it is encapsulated with square brackets ([]).

  • [poorly playing “Heart and Soul” on the piano]
  • [engine starting]
  • [upbeat music]


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