Videos, audio, and other multimedia formats have always been popular ways to convey information and it’s not hard to see why. We use them to teach and learn for school or work, to promote and showcase products, to entertain, to make money, to share our unique life experiences with the world. Videos especially are considered one of the best ways for organisations to engage their users: a well-made video can tell a story that sticks in someone’s memory.
But videos shouldn’t just be well-made. When a video is accessible, everyone who watches it – including people with disabilities – can interact with and understand it. Creating a video with accessibility in mind right from the start gives all users a good user experience.
Guidelines on making accessible videos
1. Include closed captions, also known as subtitles. People who are deaf or hard of hearing need a different way to get information presented via audio. Auto-generated captions are a good start towards accessibility, but they should always be checked for accuracy before implementation.
Captions benefit everyone: in environments where audio can’t or shouldn’t be heard, people who understand written language better than spoken, or people learning to read for the first time or in a different language.
2. Translate your video into sign language. Some people who are deaf or hard of hearing prefer sign language over captions. This might not be a feasible solution for all organisations, but a sign language translation brings you one step closer towards full inclusion.
3. Provide a text transcript of the video. Transcribing videos into text (including descriptions of what is happening in a video) is a great alternative for people with disabilities or else might find it difficult to process auditory information. For some organisations, transcripts may be easier to implement on a website than video captions or audio descriptions.
4. Include audio descriptions. For people who are blind or have a vision impairment, text and audio might be the only way they can receive information from a video. In this case, an audio description of what is happening – whether as part of the video itself or in a separate recording – is useful.
5. Upload to an accessible media player. There are a few different platforms to choose from when uploading your video and/or embedding it onto your website. An accessible media player is important primarily for people who can’t use a standard mouse and must use only a keyboard or voice controls to navigate a website.
It should be noted that some people will use multiple accessibility features at the same time, for example, turning on captions and reading a text transcript. Guideline 1.2 Time-Based Media in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines covers all aspects of multimedia accessibility.
Making videos more accessible brings us closer to a future where everyone can equally experience and engage with web content without any barriers. Contact the IA Labs team with any questions or for support around creating accessible videos for your organisation.