5 Steps for Meeting Accessibility Standards for Video Content

video content accessibility

If you use video content on your business website and social media platforms, as most businesses do, you need to ensure that it complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). 

People with disabilities face certain barriers when using the internet, and particularly when viewing video content. If you don’t create content that is accessible to them, you alienate a portion of your potential market audience. These guidelines exist to help businesses create content that is accessible to all. 

When it comes to online video, the industry standards for accessibility is the WCAG 2.0 Level AA. There are certain audio captioning and audio description criteria that need to be met if you want to qualify for WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance, and you must also meet Level A requirements first. 

  • Level A: Captions must be provided for all pre-recorded media content, except when media content is labelled as an alternative for text. An alternative for time-based media or audio description of video content must be provided.
  • Level AA: Additionally, captions must be provided for all live video and audio descriptions must be provided for any pre-recorded video content. 

In short, this means that captions and audio descriptions must be provided for all video and audio content, whether it is live or pre-recorded. If your video content does not meet these requirements, you can follow these 5 steps to ensure that you are WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant at all times and that you make your content accessible to all. 


creating video content


1. Be considerate when
creating video content

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Accessibility is often overlooked during the video content creation process, and some businesses assume that it will make production more expensive, but that’s not necessarily the case. By creating accessible content, you improve the user experience for everybody, and you broaden your reach because people with certain disabilities can also access that content. It’s important that you make accessibility a central part of the process when designing and producing video content.  

An example of what you should be thinking about during the production process is the way that you use colour. This is important because colourblind viewers may have difficulty when viewing the video. Colours need to be easily distinguishable from one another so people with colour blindness or partial sight can still understand the content. You should also avoid using colour alone to convey information. This is especially important when using charts and graphs in your videos. 

When displaying text on the screen, always ensure that it’s large enough to be read by people with partial sight. It needs to stay on the screen for long enough so people with impaired sight or a lower reading ability have time to take in all the information. 

Fast flashing content should also be avoided as it can cause seizures. It is also more difficult for people to keep up if they have impaired sight. To avoid seizures, do not use more than 3 flashes in a 1 second period. 


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2. Pick an accessible
video player

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Most people don’t consider how inaccessible certain video players can be when they’re viewing online content, but for people with disabilities, it can be a big issue. 

For example, a lot of standard video players contain a keyboard trap, which means that a user must use the mouse to close the window and they cannot use a keyboard shortcut. For people that are unable to use a mouse due to their disability, their only option is to shut the entire browser down with a shortcut. 

Some video players don’t support captions or audio descriptions which are essential for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you use a player that doesn’t support these features, it’s impossible for people with hearing issues to engage with your visual content. 

OzPlayer is the best accessible video player available to you right now. The WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines were used as a basis to design and build this video player. It’s possible to play videos through a ‘skin’ from another site. For example, if your video content is loaded to Youtube, Vimeo, or your own site, it can be viewed through OzPlayer. The player has full caption and audio description capabilities and doesn’t contain keyboard traps, so it’s accessible to all. Updates are released on a regular basis to ensure that your video content is always compliant, even if the WCAG guidelines are altered. 

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3. Add captions

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Captions are important because they make visual content fully accessible to people that are deaf or hard of hearing. The WCAG does not have strict guidelines on captions, but they do need to obey the four main principles:

  • Perceivable — Information must be presented in a way that all users can perceive. 
  • Operable — All users must be able to operate the interface. 
  • Understandable — Information must be presented in a way that is easy to understand. 
  • Robust — Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a wide range of people and it must adapt to changes in guidelines and accessibility technology. 

As long as your captions meet these four principles, your video content will be compliant. The best way to ensure that you meet all of the requirements is to use a professional transcript service to create captions for you. 



4. Include a transcript

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It’s also beneficial to include a full transcript of the speech in the video so users can read through it at their own pace. It also allows people to access the information if they don’t have the time or capability to watch the video. Finally, it makes your content easier to find because text is more searchable than video. 

When creating transcripts, it’s important to understand some of the different formats and the industry terms used to describe them. 

A ‘full-verbatim transcript’ captures every single word that is spoken on a recording. Businesses often assume that this is the best way to transcribe a video, but it’s important to remember that there are differences between text and speech. When talking, people use many filler words and ‘umm’s and ‘err’s which are not actually valuable to a video transcript, which can make the transcription confusing and difficult to read, especially for people with lower reading ability. 

A ‘verbatim’ transcript, often referred to as ‘intelligent verbatim’, ‘word-for-word’, or ‘clean verbatim’, is often a better choice. Any words and sounds that don’t impact the meaning of the sentence are edited out. This creates a cleaner transcript for video content that is easier to understand. 

When creating transcripts, it’s best to find an external service that specialises in creating ‘verbatim’ transcripts, so you can ensure the highest level of clarity. It is also important to consider data security when creating transcripts. Ensure that the whichever transcription service you choose to use cares about protecting your data. Look out for services which will happily sign an NDA and that have ISO accreditations 27001 and 9001 which indicate that your provider will handle your data professionally, placing it in minimal risk. 


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5. Audit Your Captions

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Before you upload video content to your website, it’s vital that you audit the captions to ensure that they are WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant. You need to watch content all the way through and ensure that captions are always visible, and the transcription is accurate and easy to understand. You will need to check the audio descriptions can be enabled and disabled easily as well. 

This auditing can be very time-consuming, but if you use an external service that is WCAG compliant to create your captions and transcripts, you can be sure that they meet all of the necessary requirements. This means that you don’t need to spend as much time auditing content before it goes out. 


video content end user


Think about the end-user
every step of the way

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If you want to create accessible video content, you need to think about the end-user every step of the way. Consider how somebody that is deaf or hard of hearing, has a visual impairment, or has mobility issues will experience the video content. Make sure to use an external service to create accurate captions and transcriptions, and always display your content through an accessible media player. 

As long as you follow these 5 steps, you’ll be able to create video content that is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines so you can reach the broadest possible audience. 

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Take Note

Take Note is a UK-based transcription service with world-class customer support alongside the highest standards of security and ethics. We deliver a comprehensive range of transcription services including Audio and Video Transcription, Video Captions and On-Site Note Taking.