Making Accessible Videos Content Creators Guide

Jul 31, 2023

Social media is a bigger part of our world than ever. The demand for digital content is at an all-time high. This has opened up content creation as a career path for a lot of people. But have these creators opened their content to a lot of people?

Unfortunately, a massive amount of video content remains inaccessible to people with disabilities. Over 15% of the global population has a disability. Yet accessibility is not considered a priority. Cutting this many people off is not only morally wrong but also highly unprofitable.

Video is one of the most consumed media forms. We use it for everything, from entertainment to getting important information. The world watches over one billion hours of YouTube every day. Video content creators can make big money if they have a large audience. So, it makes sense to create videos that are open to as many people as possible.

Creating accessible videos can be confusing if you don’t know where to start. This guide gives simple, effective suggestions that ensure more people can enjoy your content.

Upload to the Right Places

Stage one in making accessible videos is uploading your content to an accessible platform. This means choosing a media player that supports different ways of use for various needs.

Your media player needs to support features such as captioning, customizable playback speeds, transcription, and audio descriptions. The web version of your platform must 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.

Never choose a media player that uses auto-play without consent. This causes massive problems for people using screen readers. Auto-play overrides essential navigation audio for screen reader users. The overlapping audio can make it nearly impossible to turn the video off. This prevents further web use and can be very distressing.

Caption Your Videos

Over 430 million people worldwide have a disabling hearing impairment. Despite this, most digital platforms do not consider captioning videos a requirement. It’s up to the creator to add them. Many consider it too much effort, so they choose not to do it. However, this is a massive mistake.

Many people cannot watch videos without captions, even if the content interests them. Opting out of using captions restricts both you and your views. Fewer people are able to watch the content they want. From this, you’re limiting the number of viewers on each video. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Plus, you’re not just losing viewers with disabilities. Captions are commonly used by people watching videos in their second language. Over a billion people speak English as a learned language. An endless array of accents and dialects can make English very difficult to understand. Adding captions opens your video to more second-language speakers and learners. This is a massive potential audience that should not be ignored.

Captioning videos is also great for SEO. Apart from the title and description, search engines are unable to pick up keywords to categorize your content. Obviously, this is not much info to go off. Adding captions gives the search engine the necessary information to fill in these gaps. This increases the chances of your videos being shown on the YouTube homepage or high up in search results. Captions are not just about accessibility, they’re also about increasing engagement levels.

Most major platforms come with auto-transcription tools. IGTV, Snapchat, and TikTok are all recent additions to this. However, these should be a last resort. The technology struggles to understand dialects and slang. This makes for inaccurate captions that can be worse than no captions at all. Add your own captions using the captioning tool on the platform. Alternatively, you can also add open captions to your videos. These are captions that are added to your video during the editing process. Unlike closed captions, open captions are fixed onto the video and cannot be turned off.

Unlike subtitling, captioning your video is not just about conveying your speech. The audience should be made aware of all important audio content. You should be emulating the feel of the video. Make note of any laughter, music, or additional sound effects by putting them in brackets.

Transcribe Your Content

Uploading your content in different formats to multiple platforms is the best accessibility move you can make.

Whilst captions are vital for many, some people have difficulty with them. The size of captions can be too small for people with vision impairment. Others find it difficult to read text that changes rapidly. Many need to read from a page that remains stationary. Transcribing content ensures that people who are unable to use captions can still access your content.

There are a few different ways to go about this. Self-transcription can be a tricky task. On the contrary, paying for a human transcription service can quickly get expensive. AI transcription services are generally the cheapest, low-effort way to get a transcription. However, this will never be 100% accurate. Therefore, you always need to review with a human editor before uploading anything.

Like captioning, transcription is amazing for SEO. This is because it gives your search engine a physical document of keywords to pull. This means your content is categorized more accurately, boosting the chance of it ranking. You can add this transcription in the description of your video or as a separate document.

Crystal Clear

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.

Be obvious. Never assume people can see or understand what’s happening visually. Tell users what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. The same goes for artwork or text onscreen.

Make visual elements as clear as you can too. Is your mouth visible when speaking? Many people with hearing impairments rely on lip reading. The speaker needs to be in good lighting, especially their mouth. Make sure no objects are in the way. Anything blocking the view also limits people’s ability to consume your content.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Getting your setup right for filming is crucial. It may seem like a small thing, but it can really impact accessibility.

Think about your lighting. Is it making your video too bright or over-saturated? If so, then you need to make a few changes. Garish lighting can make videos inaccessible and difficult to watch. It causes particular issues for people with vision impairment and those who experience sensory overload. However, it’s also vital that your videos are not too dull or washed out. Shadows and highlights should be well-balanced to keep the visuals clear.

A lot of people stuff their videos with effects and animations to show off their editing skills. However, these are an accessibility no-no. These can be difficult to look at and overwhelming for many. Any text or art edited on-screen needs to remain in place long enough for people to perceive it fully. Avoid adding animations to text as it makes it difficult to read.

WCAG states you must never add flashing images. Anything likely to cause a seizure can kill. Avoid this at all costs.

Include Everyone

The world we live in is filled with all types of people! Similarly, your audience is made up of a huge variety of individuals. This includes people of different ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, religions, genders, abilities, and disabilities. It’s important that content reflects this as well as catering to it. Use 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!