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Re: SC 1.2.2 and YouTube's auto captions


From: John Foliot
Date: Jun 27, 2017 2:36PM

Hi Diane,

To answer that question requires another question: what is your ultimate
goal here? To be in compliance with WCAG 2.0 for legal reasons, or to use
SC 1.2.2 Criteria to make video content truly accessible to those end-user
who require captions?

If your response is to meet the legal requirement, the entire Success
Criteria states:

*Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized
media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly
labeled as such.*
​(source: ​

Sadly, there is nothing in that language that specifies *accuracy*, only
that captions must exist.

From a legal perspective, that would be at least one valid interpretation,
and since we don't actually have any legal precedent to fall back on here,
it has to remain as simply that for now: an interpretation.

True, the Technique you reference suggests that inaccurate captions fail to
meet the end-user need, but given the way that WCAG is written, all
Techniques (both Passing Techniques and Failure Techniques) are
they are not actually part of the standard/specification (which has now
taken on an additional "legal" perspective).

When presented to a judge, we simply don't know how that judge will react.

The real focus then needs to be on the functional requirement (and not the
legal one), which is where the Technique you reference comes in, and that
takes a different strategy. I have found that focusing on the negative
impact on a Brand perception ("Look at this, how dumb can they be", or an
automated caption that mangles a product name, or a senior executive's
family name) all because the site didn't go the additional way and ensure
accurate captions has way more impact and resonance.

In other words, sell the upsides, and not the downsides.

But to the question of "are YouTube's automatic captions enough?" the
actual answer is, legally, we just don't know for sure.

John Foliot
Principal Accessibility Strategist
Deque Systems Inc.

Advancing the mission of digital accessibility and inclusion