Nowadays, more and more people are going online and consuming video. In fact, it seems that most people online are streaming some form of video content — a whopping 82% of all internet traffic. But, what about people who are hard-of-hearing and need a little something extra? What do we need to do to make them feel included and respected? Today, we’ll learn about accessibility standards for video, and what they entail.

After all, video marketing is the most effective way to grab your customers’ attention. Don’t believe me? Well, just keep in mind that humans are primarily visual creatures. Therefore, a video delivers a double whammy of image and sound that’s very hard to resist. But, when it’s all said and done, visuals trump everything else, even if there are only captions and no sound. As you can probably tell, this is a boon for hearing-impaired folk. But that’s not the only benefit of having captions, as we’ll soon learn.

To be honest, accessible videos benefit everyone at different times. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know about the ground rules of accessibility, and how you can hop on the bandwagon. Rather than merely trying to adopt a trend, you’ll see how a few very simple tweaks can make all the difference; in the end, you’ll be able to make better, more interesting, engaging, and inclusive videos.

Let’s get this show on the road.

Accessibility Standards for Video Basics

Statista gives us plenty of insight into the number of video watchers in the US. Right now, that figure is inching pretty close to 250 million viewers, or that is to say nearly everyone. Any right-thinking person is going to want not just a piece of that, but the whole pie. That means everyone, from able-bodied to those with hearing impairments, should be able to enjoy your video content.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be very high on the list of priorities for most video makers. If only they knew from the start how little it takes to make a video more inclusive, they would probably add these things from the get-go.

What are the basics when it comes to accessibility standards for video? Here we go:

  1. Use colors well, including contrast.
  2. Keep it simple. Avoid making things too complicated unless you’re trying to prove a point or make an arthouse video.
  3. If there’s text onscreen, make sure it’s legible and a good fit for the overall visual aesthetic.
  4. Avoid flashing content. If you’re going to be experimenting with psychedelic visuals, make sure to include a strobe warning for epilepsy sufferers.
  5. Transcribe your video.
  6. Caption your video.

We’ll get into each of these more as we go along. First, let’s explain colors.

The Right Use of Color Matters

The Bureau of Internet Accessibility has a thoughtful take on the use of color in videos:

Use colors thoughtfully and with good contrast:  Ensure information is not conveyed with colors alone and when colors are used they are sufficiently-distinguishable. Apply this principle to any content that conveys information, like text or charts

But that’s not all there is to say on the subject of color. It’s used primarily to convey simple emotions and ideas. Knowing how to use colors to attract attention to the appropriate things while maintaining the right emotional tone is an art unto itself. Moreover, it’s not as simple as merely thinking about which color is associated with which emotion but to also string them together and create new, engaging combinations.

Our article Color Wheel Basics to Help in Your Design is also applicable to accessibility standards for video:

  • Look beyond your favorite colors and choose colors to strengthen the website and your brand.
  • Colors that work well individually may not be as pleasing when you combine them. Check the color wheel before doing so.
  • Use the color wheel when deciding to go analogous, complementary, or monochrome.
  • The more appealing your website is, the more engagement you’ll get. Color plays a big part in this.
  • A monochrome color scheme doesn’t mean just one color, it can have multiple shades of one color. The RBG color wheel can help you find them.

The Allure of Simplicity

The more complicated you make your video, the fewer people are going to watch it; it may be a sad truth, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Again, unless you’re making an arthouse independent film, have a clear artistic vision, or are trying to break new ground, this is not advisable, especially when we’re talking marketing. Sure, if you’ve got an incredibly creative idea that you want to put out into the world, you can disregard this advice. If, though, you want to engage the maximum amount of people possible, it’d be good to take it under advisement.

Having a clear, easy-to-follow narrative, a good script, and great use of color are the founding aspects. Then, it’s about tweaking things so small I’d forgive you for thinking they don’t make a difference.

But they do, so read on!

Accessibility Standards for Video – Transcriptions and Captions

Aren’t those two the same? While they’re in the same family, they’re not the exact same thing. A transcription is a word-by-word conversion of the spoken word. While it comes in several forms, we typically see verbatim (exact copy) or clean verbatim (omission of “umms,” “aahs,” and repeated words) transcriptions having an impact on accessibility. Why? Because we use these transcriptions to create captions — on-screen text displays that represent dialogue. We call these subtitles. You’ve probably heard of them, but are one of those philistines that saw the whole three seasons of Dark dubbed. I still haven’t forgiven the internet for that.

Then, from subtitles, we get the real diva of the accessibility world: closed captions. These add a little something extra to the 1/1 reproduction of spoken dialogue: text descriptions of important sounds, as well as background music. While this may not be much to you, it makes all the difference to hearing-impaired people, who receive all-important context for scenes. It’s not the same for characters to be in a crowded area rather than a completely empty one, for instance; the subtle audio cues that we receive each day require no explanation for us, but they’re vital for understanding the tone and ambiance of a scene.

Why all the mishmash of transcription, subtitling, and captions? Because you’re going to want to pursue some, or all three of them, as part of your effort to create more accessible videos. And, if you’re going to be hiring real pros to do it, they’ll very likely ask you which one you need, if not offer to all three.

How Captions Increase Accessibility

  • Increase Viewer Base

This goes beyond hard-of-hearing people alone. Over 80% of people who watch videos on social media do so on mute. Why? Because everything’s competing for our attention all at once, and we typically don’t know whether we want to watch a video until the end until after we’ve previewed it for a bit. Guess what helps viewers get a better idea of a video’s content without having to listen to it? That’s right, captions. What’s more, people tend to watch captioned videos all the way through to the end much more consistently — an 8-12% increase, according to various sources, including Facebook.

In a world where everybody watches Facebook without sound, that’s pretty significant. Captions also allow people in loud environments to continue watching your content, which is not insignificant on those long bus rides to or from work.

accesibility standards for video

  • SEO

Search engines figure prominently in accessibility standards for video. After all, how good is your content is no one is watching? As you know, in a society where attention deficits are definitely more of a thing than ever, who really takes a deep dive into Google search results anymore? When was the last time you’ve gone beyond page one, not to say page two of search results? Anything beyond qualifies as venturing into the virtual heart of darkness.

But why? Because Google has become great at indexing search results, although this is not really something the average user knows much about. In the end, what we do have to know is that investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will make you appear higher on searches, and therefore receive more overall views, which lead to all-important conversions. The way it works is really simple: Google can index text, but it cannot watch a video or understand the contents of an audio file. Therefore, a transcription serves, in a way, as a way for Google to “read” your content.

When it comes to accessibility standards for video and SEO, transcripts are important too. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility also chimes in on this:

Transcripts can be thought of as text versions of your video. A transcript should include not only what is spoken in the video, but also descriptions of actions or important information on-screen.

Usually, a fully-accessible video should include both captions and a transcript.

The more you know, the more you sell.

  • Video is For Everyone

Everything that I’ve said about contributes to maximizing engagement and user retention, which is all well and good. But, at the end of the day, accessibility is also about included those who suffer from loss of hearing or other impairments. Transcripts and captions help with these things enormously and are more important than you know.

And this goes beyond the realm of hearing loss. Blind people can still get all the information in your content from a video transcript, for example. E-readers and other devices have special features for the blind which include reading out loud. In the end, text can help your content reach many more people.

And, by the way, this is an FCC requirement if your program is on TV:

Starting in September 2012, all pre-recorded programs shown on TV in the U.S. with captions that are not “edited for the internet” must be captioned when shown on the internet.

Summing Up

It’s been an interesting journey through accessibility standards for video. In the end, we learned that what matters is:

  • Good use of color.
  • Clarity.
  • Simplicity.
  • Captions and transcripts.

If you need professional video makers, we’ve got the best at Bunny Studio. We can help you with the A-to-Z of videos by creating the exact type of material you need for your brand or service. If you need us to throw in captions, transcriptions, or subtitles, no problem; we can cover everything so you have engaging, eye-catching, and fully accessible videos.

Give us a holler, we’d love to collaborate with you on your next project!