Creating an accessible environment applies to more than the text and layout of websites. Multimedia content such as video and audio clips should be made accessible so everyone has the opportunity to use them. There are simple steps you can take to ensure any video or audio content you create is accessible for all.
- Identify what important visual content will need to be described audibly (e.g. graphs, equations, images, etc.) for individuals with vision impairments.
- Important on-screen text should also be described audibly; this includes names and affiliations of speakers.
- If you are deciding on a color scheme, ensure the text / background color combinations meet minimum color contrast standards. (You can use the WebAIM contrast checker or a Color Contrast Analyzer for this.) If you are using CU brand colors, refer to the CU Boulder Color Contrast Recommendations.
- Advise the speaker or presenter of the accessible presentation recommendations listed in the Production/Filming Tips section below before you film them.
- Script all spoken content in advance. This will ensure all images are properly described and will speed up the captioning process in post-production. It will also allow you to ensure that the content is delivered at an appropriate level of complexity for your target audience.
- Speakers should state their name and title/affiliation audibly.
- Narrate any important visuals, such as graphs, equations, or images that need to be conveyed for the listener to fully understand the content.
- Be specific when talking about visuals on the screen. If the speaker uses locational references like “here” or “there”, they should also include a description of the item they are referencing.
- Don’t say: “This part over here represents the slope of a line.”
- Do say: “In this equation, y equals mx plus b, represents the slope of a line.”
Video captioning provides subtitles in real-time during videos, making them accessible to individuals with a hearing disability. Captioning also helps English language learners access your content, and can be used by students as a learning tool for academic video content. Broadly, captioning videos can be done by the user or by an external captioning service. The CU Boulder captioning service provides university faculty, staff, and students with training, consultation, and policy guidance around captioning, as well as resources and best practices to caption videos. Fill out the Captioning Request form to get started.
If you are adding text or video graphics to your video, ensure that the color contrast for text meets minimum standards. To check contrast, use the Color Contrast Analyzer software (for images) or the WebAIM contrast checker web page (for hexadecimal color codes).
Additionally, ensure that there is no rapidly blinking or flashing content in your video to avoid triggering seizures in individuals with photosensitive epilepsy.
Audio descriptions are a good resource for individuals with vision impairments in order to fully understand video content on your website. These audio tracks can use a combination of audio from the video as well as additional descriptions of the action and any visual elements of the video. However, producing audio descriptions can be time-consuming and are sometimes unnecessary. There are ways you can tailor the message or narration of your video to be accessible without adding additional work.
For example: If a list appears on the screen, instead of the narrator simply reading the items, they could preface the list contents with “As you can see, the five elements in a successful presentation are...” This gives a cue to users only able to listen to the video that there are visual elements corresponding to the audio, but they can be sure they’re not missing anything by not seeing the visual content.
Transcripts and Summaries
Transcripts are a great resource for individuals with hearing or vision impairments. They are simply a text version of the video content and can be easily read by a user or screen reader. There are different ways to produce transcripts. You could use a text-to-speech software or alter any pre-written scripts for the production of the video so they read as transcripts. If you choose to provide the transcript as a separate document, keep in mind best practices for accessible Word documents and Google Docs.
If your video has no audio or there is visual-only content that was not properly narrated, create a written summary of the content so that those with vision impairments can still access the content. If you are using YouTube or Vimeo to host your video, this summary should be placed in the Description section of the video. When embedding the video on a website, include the summary next to or before the video.
Accessible Media Players
Make sure to choose a media player that is usable by all, including individuals using assistive technology or keyboard commands only. The player should be accessible across all browsers and have controls that are recognized by assistive technologies.
One accessible media player recommended by OIT is the Able Player.