Video Accessibility Playbook and Downloadable Checklist
Creating video content with an accessibility-first mindset is quickly becoming a best practice in the digital era. From closed captioning to downloadable video transcripts, access for everyone is a top priority. And it’s no wonder—with over 19% of the US population living with a disability, the need for inclusive content is real. Video accessibility means that anyone can get the same message from a video, no matter their disabilities.
Why Should I Follow Video Accessibility Laws?
To put it simply? It’s better for everyone, but it’s also the law. In January of 2018, the US Federal government refreshed the Rehabilitation Act to include Section 508. Section 508 standards align with the globally accepted video accessibility requirements of WCAG 2.0. This law ensures videos made for, and distributed by federal government can be clearly understood by all, regardless of disability. Failing to follow Section 508 standards can lead to some major business risks. With landmark civil rights lawsuits against major universities like Harvard and M.I.T., it pays to pay attention to accessibility.
Your Video Accessibility Game Plan
So now that you’re a bit more familiar with video accessibility, it’s time to put a plan in place. The goal? Help your business create accessible video content, maintain Section 508 compliance, and bring a better user experience to your audience.
1) Choose Your Workplace Accessibility Expert
Getting informed on WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 standards is one of the biggest hurdles to achieving accessible video content. Select one or two people in your workplace who are in charge of knowing the legislation front to back. These will be your team’s go-to resources. They will:
- Lead your accessibility strategy.
- Let you know when you’re getting off track, and how to get back on.
- Educate the team on the technical aspects of the law.
- Be responsible for signing off on publishing accessible video content.
2) Come Up With An Accessibility Plan
Now that you have an Accessibility Expert, work with them to create your accessibility plan. Make sure you’re covering retroactive and future compliance.
A good rule of thumb is to take stock of your video content and identify your most popular or valuable videos. Assign those first. Then work your way backward until your videos pass the accessibility stress test.
Going forward, make sure accessibility is built-in right from the get-go so that you don’t have to retrofit it. The good news? For a federal law, Section 508 gives you a clear checklist to help you stay onside with minimum requirements:
Keys To Section 508 Compliance
- Use closed captioning—Captions can be spoken or unspoken sounds. The text overlays the video in sync with the events as they occur. For deaf and hard of hearing individuals, this is a key component to a good user experience.
- Audio Descriptions—Dialogue isn’t the only audio worth transcribing. Audio description is a separate transcript that describes the soundscape of a video. For example, a door slams, wind rushing, or ice cracking, are all descriptive sounds that help tell a story.
- Use an accessible video player—Many people don’t know if they are using a Section 508 compliant video player. For example, you might assume YouTube is an accessible video player, but it’s not. YouTube is always adding more accessibility features. But, it doesn’t yet have the features that a standalone player like iTunes or QuickTime have. To be accessible, the video player must be easy to use by people with any classified disabilities. For example, someone who is paralyzed and unable to use a mouse could operate the player using speech.
You can find a complete list of Section 508 compliant video players here.
Following the steps above will put your videos in good accessibility standing. As you get more comfortable, you can always add more robust accessibility standards as you go.
3) Build your Accessibility Tech Stack
Now that your plan is in place, you’ll need tools to help you achieve your goals. While daunting at first, a lot of clever tools are available to help you scale this exact process. Here are some of the main tasks that can be made easier and more efficient with the help of technology:
- Captioning will be a major part of your process, and not everyone has the technical resources in-house to make it happen efficiently. Fortunately, we’ve made the process of adding closed captions affordable, scalable, and reliable. This means your teams can focus their efforts where they’ll have the most impact.
- Transcription is another important part of video accessibility. While some companies use in-house resources, it’s not always a good idea to give a tedious task to someone who could be working on higher-value work. Offloading this to an expert third-party transcription service can save you a lot of time and resources.
- Finding an accessible video player will be an important piece of your accessibility puzzle. Whether you choose an embedded or standalone player, you will want to make sure it’s on this approved list of Section 508 compliant video players.
Unexpected Bonuses to Video Accessibility
Beyond supporting equal access for all, there are a lot of unexpected benefits that come from video accessibility laws. In fact, Section 508 compliance can improve the experience for almost every user. With more ways to customize the experience, accessible video content gives you better engagement, retention rates, and SEO indexing. Think about it, if you’re in the lunchroom at work watching a video, but don’t want to disturb others, closed captioning makes a lot of sense. Or if you find it hard to take in the key points of a longer video, you can go back to a transcript to jog your memory.
With so many benefits to accessible video content, the time is perfect to transform yours. With the right plan in hand, and the knowledge to support it, you can be on your way to creating content for everyone.