Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

Compliance with accessibility regulations ensures that people with visual or hearing impairments can access your video & audio content.

Legislations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the European Accessibility Act (EAA) consider the WCAG guidelines as a best practice.

ADA standards

What is ADA?

A comprehensive civil rights law in the US that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.

The principles of non-discrimination and equal access, as outlined by the ADA, are applicable when considering the accessibility of media content.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the ADA, and there have been legal precedents and settlements that highlight the significance of ensuring accessibility of media content for individuals with disabilities.

How to be compliant with ADA?

Despite the absence of legal clarification, numerous judgments have established WCAG level AA as the target for achieving ADA accessibility standards.

1. Level A accessibility features are included in your video

Upload a video file and automatically transcribe and subtitle your content in the language your audience speaks and understands.

2. Level AA accessibility features are included in your video

Include closed captions (CC) and audio descriptions in the Subly editor. Check your file for colour contrasts and include content warnings.

3. Video player supports AA accessibility features

Ensure that the video player supports level A and AA accessibility features, includes accessible controls, and can be navigated via keyboard.


Provide captions for pre-recorded audio content. Captions should be synchronised with the media and include all relevant information. This is particularly important for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Audio descriptions

For video content, provide audio descriptions of visual information that is essential for understanding the content. This benefits users who are blind or visually impaired.

Descriptive transcripts

Provide a text transcript for all pre-recorded audio content. This allows users who cannot hear the audio to access the information through text.

Sign language

For prerecorded video and audio content, provide sign language interpretation to make the information accessible to users who rely on sign language.

Adaptable content

Ensure that the media player can be operated using a keyboard, as some users may have difficulty using a mouse. This helps meet the needs of users with mobility impairments.

Keyboard access

Ensure that all functionality of the media player is operable via a keyboard interface, allowing users who cannot use a mouse to control and access the media.

Focus visible

Ensure that there is a visible focus indicator that can be seen and operated by keyboard users. This helps users with visual or motor disabilities understand where they are in the media player interface.

Accessible player controls

Provide controls for users to pause, stop, or hide any moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating content within the media player. This helps users with cognitive or attention-related disabilities.

Flashing content

Content cannot have more than 3 flashes per second unless the flashing content is small enough, the flashes are low contrast, and they do not violate the general flash threshold.

Colour contrast

Small text (below 18 pt regular or 14 pt bold font) must have a minimum of 4.5 to 1 contrast ratio with the background. Large text (over 18 pt or 14 pt bold) must have at least a 3:1 contrast ratio with the background.

Media accessibility compliance lawsuits

Why ADA compliance?

In the US large organisations have been the main target of ADA accessibility lawsuits for years, but smaller companies (under $25 million revenue) received 77% of cases in the first half of 2023 alone.

In the European Union (EU), the deadline is June 28, 2025 for companies to act and ensure compliance with the European Accessibility Act (EAA). After the deadline, we can expect to start seeing accessibility lawsuits in the EU.

ADA compliance and WCAG standards.

Following WCAG guidelines is considered a best practice for meeting the accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), even though the ADA does not specifically mandate compliance with WCAG.

WCAG is set around four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Sometimes communicated by the acronym POUR.

Perceivable: Text Alternatives

Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms that people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language.

Perceivable: Time-based Media

Provide alternatives for time-based media, such as audio and video. This includes providing captions for video content and text transcripts for audio content.

Operable: Keyboard Accessible

Make all functionality available from a keyboard. This is important for users who may have difficulty using a mouse, including some individuals with mobility impairments.

Operable: Enough Time

Provide users enough time to read and use content. This includes controls within media players to allow users to pause or stop, benefiting users with cognitive or attention-related disabilities.

Understandable: Readable

Make text content readable and understandable. While this guideline is broad, it can be applied to ensuring that text content associated with media is clear and easy to comprehend.

Robust: Compatible

Maximize compatibility with user agents, including assistive technologies. This involves using standard and well-supported formats for media content to ensure widespread accessibility.

What level of compliance?

Aim for WCAG level AA to be compliant with the ADA regulations. This ensures a baseline of accessibility for a wide range of users.

Provide text alternatives
for non-text content, such
as captions for videos and transcripts for audio.
Ensure keyboard accessibility
for media players, provide audio descriptions for videos, and sufficient contrast in text.
Provide sign language for live video content and ensure that captions are positioned in a way that does not obscure important visual information.
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Many people who are Deaf can read text well. They get the audio information from transcripts or captions. Some people prefer sign language.

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Some people who are hard of hearing like to listen to the audio to hear what they can, and have captions to fill in what they can’t hear adequately.

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Some people who have difficulty processing auditory information also use captions. Many use transcripts so they can read at their own pace.

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Some people cannot focus and comprehend auditory or visual information when there are changing visuals. For most videos, they also need descriptive transcripts.

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Follow the media accessibility standards & legislations.

Specific requirements vary based on regional laws and regulations. However, both the ADA in the US and EAA in the EU consider the WCAG guidelines as a best practice.

Americans with disabilities act

American Disability Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a comprehensive civil rights law in the United States that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

European Accessibility Act Icon

European Accessibility Act

The European Accessibility Act is a EU directive aimed at improving the accessibility of products and services for persons with disabilities.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Icon

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. WCAG is a set of guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

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The information presented within this page and/or guide is aimed at organisations seeking to learn the ropes of media accessibility and is correct at the time of publishing. Updates may be made periodically in line with changes to laws and regulations. Technical elements around media accessibility are described and presented in as simplified a manner as possible. Our guides and pages have no legal bearing, and cannot be relied on in the case of litigation.

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Be part of creating a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable society.

With your audiences spending hours each day watching and listening media content, the media accessibility is a key aspect in creating inclusivity and equality.

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Be part of an inclusive, diverse, and equitable society. By building diverse and inclusive media content ensure that all people can access and benefit from your content.

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Raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities. Everyone, regardless of their abilities, should have equal opportunities.

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Inclusivity and diversity

Ensure that people with diverse abilities can equally enjoy and understand your media content. Promote a sense of belonging and inclusion within society.

Subly use case

Accessibility teams

Subtitle, caption, transcribe, translate and provide audio descriptions for their media content.

Helping their audience to engage with inclusive videos and reaching global accessibility standards (ADA, EAA, WCAG).

Subly use case

Learning & development teams

Automate multi-language subtitles, generate SRTs and burn captions in video. Get more accessible content out the door faster.

Accessibility Compliance: Subtitles, Closed Captions, Audio Descriptions, Audio Transcription

Is your business inclusive?

Find out if your videos are compliant with ADA , EAA or WCAG  standards and accessible for people with disabilities.

Subly use case

Compliance teams

Use Subly to ensure compliance with standards and regulations (EAA, WCAG, ADA, 508).

Training & internal communication teams

Edit, translate, and subtitle videos to increase engagement & reach. Reduce the production timeline and create multiple language versions for accessible video training.

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