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. Consult our Providing Spoken Descriptions of Visual Content guide for details on how to do this.
- 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 already scripted your video, you can use YouTube's caption editor to sync your transcript to the video to create captions quickly and easily. Read more in our Making Captions from Transcripts in YouTube tutorial.
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 way to ensure that individuals with vision impairments can fully access video content. Audio description consists of a secondary audio track (either recorded by a person or created by running text-to-speech software on a timed text file) that describes any meaningful visual content during the gaps in the video's audio content. Audio descriptions should generally be created by someone with experience, and there are a number of vendors who can provide this service for live and pre-recorded material. Producing audio descriptions is not always necessary, however. If the video is created in a way that all important visual information is also provided audibly, the audio description will be "baked" into the original content and doesn't need to be added after the fact.
Examples of how to convey visual content audibly in the original audio include:
- Instead of only showing text at the bottom of the screen that shows an interviewee's name and title, ask the interviewee to state their name and title when they begin speaking, or provide a voiceover that narrates their name and title.
- If a graph or figure is shown, explain out loud what the graph is measuring and what the results are.
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 can 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. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about selecting an accessible media player.
If you need to add a separate audio description track to your video, consider using the Able Player, which is one of the few video players that allow users to toggle audio description tracks on and off.