When you start thinking of creating a video, it’s always a good idea to look for ways to make it accessible to as many people as possible. After all, there are over 1.1 billion people worldwide who have some form of disability, and you should do your best to make sure that they’re able to enjoy your video just as much as everyone else.
One way to make your videos more accessible is to ensure that they’re WCAG compliant. WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and it’s a set of guidelines that all web content should adhere to in order to be accessible to as many people as possible. One of the lesser-known WCAG guidelines is that all videos should have audio descriptions. Audio descriptions are narrations of the action taking place on screen, and they’re essential for people who are blind or have low vision.
Adding audio descriptions to your videos has a number of benefits. The obvious first one is that it makes your videos more accessible to a wider range of people. Second, it can actually improve the quality of your videos overall. And third, it can help you rank higher in search engines, since search engines are now taking accessibility into consideration when ranking videos.
So if you’re not already making your videos accessible, you should really consider starting to do so. It’s good for your viewers, and it’s good for your business.
Unexpected Benefits Of Accessible Videos
There are other benefits of accessible videos that may be less obvious – for example, Facebook has found that adding captions to a video can increase view time by 12%. Additionally, captions make your video content accessible to people who don’t speak the language of the video. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that want to reach a global audience.
Many people without hearing or language issues use captions as well. People may be watching a video in an office environment where they can’t play audio out loud, they could be watching while riding a noisy train, or they could be trying to keep quiet for a sleeping loved one – you don’t want people to have to have headphones handy to understand your video.
Search engines also use caption data, as they can’t yet index spoken words. This means that captioning your videos makes them more likely to appear higher in search results. Including captions also shows respect for diversity and an awareness of different needs and preferences among consumers, which can lend credibility to your message.
Types Of Accessible Videos
There are a variety of different types of accessible videos, from captioned to subtitled to localized.
Accessible videos can be captioned (using text of the script that appears on the screen) in the same language as the video, or they can be subtitled in foreign languages. Additionally, accessible videos can have subtitles in several foreign languages. This is particularly helpful for people who don’t understand the spoken language, or for people who want to listen to the video but also read along with the subtitles.
An important distinction here is between closed captions versus open captions. Closed captions allow viewers to turn the on-screen text on and off at any time, while open captions always appear on the video. Open captions are best if you are making the video specifically for a disabled or language-challenged audience, or if you know viewers are highly likely to watch your video without sound (for example, in a Facebook feed or on a screen at a train station). Closed captions are best in other situations, as they give users the choice of viewing or hiding the on-screen text.
We covered audio descriptions above, but they have hidden uses as well. Audio descriptions can be helpful for people who be listening to the video more than watching it, or for those who just want a little more information about what’s going on in a video without having to stay focused on the screen. Additionally, adding audio descriptions provides valuable metadata for search engines. This means that your videos will be more easily found when people are looking for information on specific topics. Audio descriptions can also be used to improve localization and translation efforts. For example, if you are creating a video in a foreign language, audio descriptions can provide additional context and information about the video which may be helpful when translating it into other languages.
Finally, localizing video content by adapting text and/or audio files so that they are appropriate for a specific geographical location or culture is important when using a video in more than one country/culture. It’s not always just a matter of straightforward translation of terms like “chair” into another language — it may also include “translating” names of companies, products, or even characters into culturally appropriate alternatives. Idioms and slang are also potentially problematic and may need to be adapted to be more understandable in the viewer’s language. If the subtitles are not localized correctly, they may be unintelligible (or worse!) to some viewers.
Adding accessible videos to your content marketing strategy can be a valuable way to reach a wider audience. They can make your content accessible to a global audience, increasing the reach and engagement for your messaging. Furthermore, improving SEO (search engine optimization) can help you rank higher in search results – which is likely to lead to increased traffic and revenue for your business. Additionally, making sure that your videos are appropriately labelled as accessible allows users with disabilities access to them without any difficulty.
And it’s important to note this as well: ensuring that you create engaging videos is essential if you want your content to be successful. Fully-captioned videos with multiple-language audio tracks and audio descriptions may make it easier for people to find and understand your message, but the video has to be worth watching in order to actually connect with the viewer. We always say that’s the hard part – but we can help. If you want a video that’s engaging and accessible, get in touch!
Want to learn more? Here’s some of our other content that may be of interest:
- Tips to Improve your Video’s Search Engine Optimization
- Videos as Customer Support Tools
- What’s the Ideal App Video Length?
- 5 Video Types Every App Creator Should Consider [2022 Update]