How to create accessible videos

Accessible video with captions

Written by Sophie Shearer, Creative Marketing and Media Officer, AbilityNet

Every day more than five billion videos are watched on Youtube (that’s not to mention the huge numbers watched on Facebook and other websites and channels too). More people are making their own video content than ever before, but often it is not fully accessible.

By 2019, 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video. To maximise your audience and ensure you’re including as many potential views as possible, it’s worth following the the tips below.

And, while many people think captions are just for people who are deaf, this study by the University of Iowa shows Captions have been proven to improve brand recall too.

Check out our simple guide for advice on making sure your videos are accessible and can therefore be enjoyed by a bigger audience. You can also see examples of AbilityNet’s fully accessible videos here, to get an idea of how an accessible film looks and sounds. Ideally, also test your film with people who have a range of abilities to see it they can clearly get the message intended. 

1. Don’t rely on Automatic subtitles

Subtitles are essential for people with hearing loss, but you can’t always rely on automatic ones to be accurate without editing them first. You could also write and upload your own, or ask a subtitling company. YouTube has provided some very helpful information on creating subtitles and closed captions on your Youtube videos.

2. Make sure subtitles are large and very clear

Make your subtitles big for people with low vision, ensure they are clear enough and well colour-contrasted with the background image/ colour for anyone with a sight impairment/ colour-blindness, and make sure they stay on the screen long enough so people with cognitive disabilities can have extra time to read if needed. Black text on white background is a good clear option.

3. Choose an accessible video player

If you want to keep ownership of your video and not have it on YouTube for example, Paypal offers a good accessible video player option for videos that you host yourself. OzPlayer is another accessible video player option, but do look around to see what’s best for you.

4. Don’t forget voice overs

If a slide/shot works on a visual level but has no one speaking in it/ no voiceover, it won’t be understood by someone with sight loss. Ensure that you add a voiceover with as much detail as needed so you don’t leave people with sight loss out of the full picture.

5. Consider music levels

Make sure the music on your film isn’t too disruptive. Most people will struggle to hear or understand dialogue over certain levels, but autistic people, those with learning disabilities or cognitive disabilities might find it even harder.

6. Minimise flashing Images

Using flashing images makes video unwatchable for those with people with photo-sensitivity epilepsy and other conditions.

7. Don’t forget people with both sight and hearing loss

Some TED talk videos have captions and a text transcript option. One main advantage of this is that people who have sight and hearing loss can have captions and voice converted to braille.

8. Disable autoplay

Not many people have autoplay on any more. It’s not considered good practice for a noisy video to suddenly pop up on your computer screen with no warning, especially if you’re at work or on public transport, for example. It can be disorientating for a range of people and can take a while to work out where the sound is coming from for those who are blind or have low vision.

If you want to further explore how to make videos accessible, we recommend this article on sitepoint and this one on 3player.


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