Accessible Videos Content Creators Guide
Currently, we are living in a world in which people and social media exist side by side. With social media being a bigger part of our lives than ever, the demand for digital content is at an all-time high. Because of this, choosing to become a content creator has become a highly lucrative career choice. But are content creators doing enough to make their content accessible to everyone? Unfortunately, the answer is usually no. Not only is this morally wrong, but it also means most content creators are throwing away a massive percentage of their potential audience.
Worldwide, there are over a billion people with disabilities. That’s around 15% of the population. By making your content inaccessible, you’re not only denying yourself great potential engagement levels, but you’re also denying these people the right to digital accessibility.
The UN states that digital accessibility is a human right. Digital accessibility is about ensuring that digital content is accessible to individuals with disabilities and impairments. It’s also about ensuring that the tech is designed so it does not prevent these people from using it.
Video and film are one of the most common forms of entertainment. On top of this, they’re also a primary means of conveying information. Since we rely on it so much, video content should be accessible to everyone.
Upload to the Right Places
The first stage to accessibility-friendly videos is uploading your content to an accessibility-friendly platform. This means choosing a media player that supports different needs for a variety of disabilities and impairments.
It’s important you make sure that your media player supports features such as captioning, customizable playback speeds, transcriptions, and audio descriptions. The web version of your platform must also be designed so that all major commands can be done solely through a keyboard. This includes commands such as play, volume control, and changing screen size. We also need to choose a media player that doesn’t run on auto-play as this can often be confusing for users.
Caption Your Videos
Worldwide, over 430 million people have a disabling hearing impairment. That’s around 5% of the population. Despite this, most digital video platforms do not treat captioning videos as a requirement. It’s simply up to the content creator. Because captioning is seen as a labor-heavy task, many creators simply opt out of doing it. This is a terrible mistake for several reasons.
A massive percentage of people are unable to watch videos without captions – even if the content interests them. A lack of captions is not only unfair for people with disabilities, but it’s also poor business practice. Approximately 15% of Americans report they have difficulty hearing. By uploading an uncaptioned video, already 15% of your potential audience is gone. Just like that.
But your lost audience only gets bigger! Captions aren’t just for people with hearing impairments. They are also commonly used by non-native speakers. Over one billion people speak English as a second language. An endless array of dialects and accents can make applied English listening very difficult. By including captions, foreign language speakers are more likely to understand your videos and, therefore, watch them. This combined potential audience is huge and should not be ignored.
Captioning your videos is also great SEO practice. Because videos aren’t text-based, the search engine can struggle to know what they’re about. Due to this, it becomes difficult to display your video accordingly. Basically, all the search engine has to go off is the title and description of your video. Which is not a whole lot of information. Adding captions allows Google and YouTube to fill in these gaps. Captioned videos are more likely to be featured on the YouTube home page or at the top of a Google search. Adding captions isn’t just about being accessibility-friendly, it’s also about keeping up engagement levels and search engine visibility.
Most major social media platforms come with an automatic transcription tool – IGTV, Snapchat, and TikTok all being recent additions to this. Although sometimes useful, they should really be a last resort. Most of this technology is poor at recognizing different accents and dialects. On top of this, they aren’t equipped to recognize colloquialisms and slang. Often, these captions are inaccurate and can be worse than having no captions at all. Using open captions on your videos is the best way around this. Open captions are captions that are added to your video during the editing process. Unlike closed captions, open captions remain fixed and cannot be turned off.
Unlike subtitling, captioning your video is not just about conveying your speech. It’s also about ensuring that any additional sounds are also highlighted to the audience. You should be trying to emulate the feel of the video. Be sure to make note of any laughter, music, or additional sound effects by putting them in brackets.
Uploading your content in different formats to a variety of platforms is one of the best accessibility moves you can make.
Although helpful to many, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with captions. The size of captions can also pose problems. Often, they are simply too small. Many individuals need to read off a screen with text that remains constant and font that’s adjustable. Transcribing your content makes it more accessible to an array of people. Particularly those that rely on screen readers, people with cognitive disabilities, and people with audio-processing problems.
If your video is long, transcribing it yourself can be a tricky task. On the other hand, paying someone else to transcribe for you can quickly get expensive. Using AI transcription services is generally the most hassle-free and cost-effective way to do it. However, AI is never 100% accurate. Always review your transcriptions with human judgment before you publish them.
Like captioning, transcription is great for SEO. Adding a transcription to the description of your video will increase your chance of getting more views. Alternatively, you can also provide your transcription as a separate document.
Loud and Proud
WCAG guidelines are based on four main pillars. One of them is that content must be perceivable. This means that your content should be as clear as possible. Whether this is visual content, audio content, or both. This translates into your content in a few ways: clear audio that’s loud enough, a good-quality picture, and simple easy-to-follow dialogue.
People with disabilities don’t want to be limited to just one form of content. All types of people consume all types of content. So, it’s important to be mindful of this. Providing audio descriptions is a great way to make sure that people are not hindered from viewing your videos. If your videos rely on visuals for context or understanding, then they quickly become inaccessible. Particularly, for people with vision impairment.
When performing certain actions on the screen, be sure to describe what’s happening in the audio alongside it. For example, if you were reviewing a book and the only mention of the title was shown through an image of the cover on the screen, then many people with vision impairment would be left without context. If you mention the name of the book from the start, then everyone knows what you’re talking about.
Another consideration to make: is my mouth visible as I speak? Many individuals with hearing impairment rely on reading lips to gain context and understanding of what’s going on. Make sure that the speaker is in good lighting and that there aren’t any objects obstructing the view of their mouth.
Lights, Camera, Action!
When setting up for filming, or editing post-production, it’s crucial to make sure that your video is not too bright or over-saturated. Not only will most people find this difficult to look at, but it also causes problems. Particularly, for people with vision impairment and individuals who are prone to sensory overload. On the other hand, it’s also important to make sure that the video is not too dull or washed out. We need to keep a good balance with clear shadows and highlights that keep the image discernible and distinct. When we’re filming, keep the focal point in mind. Make sure that there’s a clear focal point, against a contrasting or darker background.
When editing post-production, it can be tempting to make the video look flashy and as technically impressive as possible. Many people do this by adding effects and animations. Often these are not only difficult to look at, but they can be overwhelming for people that are prone to sensory overload. If you’re putting any text on your video, then make sure it’s clear and remains on the screen long enough for people to read. When including text, we should also avoid using animations that make it difficult to read, such as excessive movement or quick in-and-out animations.
In accordance with WCAG guidelines, you should always avoid flashing animations or anything likely to trigger seizures within your video.
Inclusive World, Inclusive Videos
The world we live in is filled with all types of people! Similarly, your audience is formed of a huge variety of individuals. This includes people of all different ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, religions, genders, abilities, and disabilities. When creating video content, it’s not only essential that our content reflects this, but also caters to it. Consider using inclusive and gender-neutral language. Make sure to speak about everybody with the respect that they deserve.
Hateful content is a massive no-no and will instantly turn your audience away!