How to make video content accessible

Janaina Santos, 20 October 2020


At Amberscript, we are constantly talking about how Digital Accessibility is not only about compliance but also about inclusion, equal opportunities and…reach. After all, excluding this audience means leaving out 10 -15% of the population.

When it comes to accessibility of videos, adding subtitles and transcripts will benefit a much larger group. Just as an example, most videos on Social Media are watched without the audio on.

Here are the main things you need to check to ensure your video content is accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing.

1. Making the video accessible from the start

If you are producing a video and you would like to fully adhere to the accessibility guidelines as much as possible, please consider the following points:

Speaker visibility

Make sure the face of the speaker is visible and has good lighting.

Some viewers with auditory disabilities use mouth reading to understand spoken language. When possible, consider this when preparing the setting of the video.

Sign language

If you plan to include sign language, make sure the frames have enough room at the lower right side to add the sign language overlay without blocking important information.

Colors and contrast

The text size should be large enough to be easily readable (and should stay in the page long enough to allow readers to follow it).

Be conservative on the use of colors – the background should offer enough contrast and not compromise the visibility of the subtitles.

No flashing content

Remember the Pokemon shock incident when over 12,000 people in Japan had photosensitive epileptic seizures due to a flashing visual effects in one episode.
Flashing content can be dangerous for sensitive viewers so avoid anything that flashes more than 3x per second.

2. Give preference to a 508-Compliant Video Player

A 508-compliant video player meets 3 requirements:

  • It has accessibility features like captioning and audio descriptions.
  • Navigation is possible with a keyboard – for users who have difficulty in using a mouse
  • It offers speech recognition so viewers can use voice command to play, pause the video.

Here is a list of accessible video players, among them, Kaltura and JW Player.

After picking a video player, do not allow autoplay mode. Users should be able to start and stop the video whenever they want.

3. Add captions to your video

Captions for videos created for digital accessibility should follow the WCAG standards. This is mandatory in cases such as public institutions in Europe.

Read more: Digital Accessibility and the WCAG standards.

In summary, captions are different than standard subtitles as it should include contextual information besides the dialogue (i.e. phone ringing, capital letters to represent someone screaming, etc.).

Here is a quick list to follow when creating captions for the deaf and hard of hearing:

  • Timestamps for captions should match the sound;
  • All the important information should be captured in the captions: descriptive sounds, lyrics of songs, etc.;
  • Stay on the screen long enough to be read;
  • Enough contrast between the color of the text and the background;
  • No pauses without captions
  • Speaker identification

Sdh or Captions? Subtitles for Digital Accessibility

4. Add transcripts to your video

Transcripts are a great way to allow users with hearing disabilities to follow video and audio content.
As it is the case with captions, it is also a requirement for public institutions in Europe to adhere to digital accessibility guidelines.

You have different options to generate transcripts from your audio or video file:

  • Transcribing your audio to text manually
  • Have a company make your transcriptions
  • Use an automated transcription service

How to transcribe audio: 3 ways to convert speech to text

Internet universality: definition and why it matters to accessibility EN

Internet universality: definition and why it matters

Internet universality's definition relates to the equality of access to the digital environment. Find out how to promote web universality!

video podcast

How to create video podcasts and transcripts of audio EN

How to create video podcast and transcripts of audio

You can make your podcasts accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing by providing transcriptions and creating video podcasts. Find out how!

sdh and closed captions

Sdh or Captions? Subtitles for Digital Accessibility EN

Sdh or Captions? Subtitles for Digital Accessibility

Which subtitles should you use for Digital Accessibility? Learn how Sdh subtitles and closed captions can make you content WCGA-proofed.