If you watch content on your phone or computer, you have probably used closed captioning at some point. Closed captioning typically appears on screens in a standard format, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission’s rules for closed captioning on television. But have you ever wondered how captioning works in an immersive environment, such as virtual reality (VR)? When the content surrounds you in a virtual space, it can be harder to determine where to place captions, what they should look like, and how different speakers should be identified.

Learn How to Create Accessible Immersive Captions

These are the issues the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Immersive Captions Community Group set out to study. After two years of research, W3C has published the Final Community Group Report, Recommendations for accessible captions in 360 degree video. The report contains clear and easy-to-understand immersive caption recommendations and physical considerations that can help everyone create more inclusive immersive environments. The report also states, “XR [extended reality] experiences are moving toward the mainstream, and there’s a growing realization within the tech industry of the importance of accessibility in all emergent technology.” Captions are an essential part of digital accessibility and are more challenging in immersive environments. This is because immersive environments include a complex variety of visuals and pre-authored or live speech and audio elements.

PEAT’s Director, Bill Curtis-Davidson, is a member of the W3C Immersive Captions Community Group. He contributed to the report alongside community leaders and experts in the inclusive technology space. Bill shares, “It is critical that we get immersive captioning right from day one of building these environments. I am proud of this report and the Community Group’s work leveraging lived experience and expertise.”

While the report is not a W3C Standard, it was created to provide technology designers and developers with detailed information about how immersive environments can be made more accessible through captioning.

Read the Recommendations for accessible captions in a 360 degree video report to learn more.

Check out Inclusive XR Resources from PEAT

PEAT is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).