Bundling some things I posted elsewhere, exploring

Attempt at an accessible interactive transcript for a YT video

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When you subtitle a video on YT, the file of the subtitles also produces an interactive transcript under the player. See screenshot in YouTube’s Interactive Transcripts (Google Operating System – Unofficial news and tips about Google. 2010-06-04). Unfortunately, you need to point the cursor on the transcript symbol to activate it, so blind people cannot do that.

However, it is also possible to make deep links to given points of YT videos, as explained in YouTube Enables Deep Linking Within Videos (Jason Kincaid, TechCrunch, 25 ott. 2008).  So let’s try with an existing subtitled video: Vézelay, Church and Hill (with easily-made captions).


Attempt at an accessible interactive transcript

0:00 Holy Pilgrimage Town: Vezelay, Church and Hill

0:05 A small hill lies in the Burgundy region of Central France. The Medieval town of Vezelay

0:11 extends beside the road and stretches across the hill.

0:21 The St. Madeleine church stands at the top. It is a centre of pilgrimage for Christians.

0:30 It was built in the 10th century and is believed to hold the relics of Mary Magdalene. It became

0:38 known as a revered place of the Holy Spirit. The interior is decorated with a large sculpture

0:44 illustrating, scenes from the Pentecost, with a figure of Jesus giving revelations to his

0:49 apostles in the middle. According to the Bible St. Mary Magdalene witnessed the death and

0:56 resurrection of Jesus. Her relics were highly prized in medieval times.

1:08 St. Madeleine Church drew many devout Christians from all over Europe to pay homage. People in the medieval period expressed their

1:20 religious faith by going on pilgrimage.

1:30 During the Crusades, knights saw St. Mary Magdalene as an inspiration for their campaign

1:35 – she was said to have been expelled from Jerusalem. St Madeleine Church became a point

1:44 of departure for Crusaders but also Pilgrims starting their trek to the Vatican and to

1:50 Holy sites in Spain. Scallop shells lie on the path in front of the church. The shell

1:57 was an emblem of Saint James and became a symbol of Pilgrimage.

2:03 Many houses, used to accommodate pilgrims still remain. A great number of pilgrims flocked

2:10 to the town in the Middle Ages and there was not enough space for everyone.

2:16 straw on the floor of spaces like this one which sheltered around 50-100 people. This

2:23 basement remains in its original shape but is now used as a wine cellar.

2:28 For modern-day pilgrims, the Holy Journey still starts from here: the town of Vezelay

2:35 in France.

Temporary assessment

Contrary to what I feared, WordPress does allow deep linking to a given point of a video, and hence to make a transcript that is – hopefully – accessible with a screen reader. The way I did it was:

  1. make a transcript by copypasting the one you made the subtitles with and simplifying the time codes as above
  2. make the first deep link, using the code indicated in in YouTube’s Interactive Transcripts.
  3. on the HTML interface, copy paste the <a href= etc> part of this first link for each following time code, adjusting minutes and seconds for each
  4. add the </a> tag for closing links after each link.


  • this process is a bit of a pain in the neck, especially for longish videos
  • from a user’s viewpoint, each link will open the video again

Nevertheless, the pain in the neck might be worth it if it allows blind users to start a video where they want. Anyway, if you are using a screen reader, you can’t very well listen to the video and to the reading of the transcript at the same time.

Author: Claude Almansi

Freelance translator and subtitler, former teacher, human rights advocate - hence my interest in accessibility.

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