It’s easier than ever to create video content for your business. You can grab your smartphone, find an area with good lighting, and make TikTok and YouTube footage within a matter of minutes. Not only is video content seemingly easy, but it’s also in demand. More than half (53%) of marketers believe video content drives the highest ROI compared to other forms. This breaks down into short-form videos (34%), long-form videos (11%), and live videos (8%).
However, just because you can create and publish videos within a few minutes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend a little more time on the content. Adding a few accessibility features can appeal to users with and without disabilities. Here’s what you need to know about video accessibility and how it can increase your viewership and effectiveness.
Why Should You Care About Accessibility in Your Video Content?
Disability affects all Americans in some form or another. According to the CDC, more than one in four Americans (27%) have some type of disability. The odds that your audience either has a disability or knows — and deeply cares for — someone who does is high. Including accessible elements can reflect your branding and company values of inclusivity and accommodation.
However, there are also financial reasons for building accessible elements into your content. People with disabilities are still your target audience and potential customers. For example, many people who are deaf or hard of hearing still drive, and studies show their peripheral vision might be up to 20% better because they rely on visual cues. There are also assistive devices that alert drivers to horns or approaching sirens (if they miss the flashing lights behind them).
Additionally, more than three million people in the United States have vision problems. However, this doesn’t necessarily keep them off the roads. Some drivers wear corrective lenses, while others avoid driving at night. The vision issue can be minor enough that they can still operate a motor vehicle safely. (Color blindness also counts as a visual disability.)
Even if the person consuming the content won’t be driving because of their disability, they might still have a say in the vehicle purchase and maintenance process. They could contribute financially to the vehicle that their partner or caregiver drives or simply will want to help them make the best choice for the family.
How to Make Your Video Content More Accessible
There is good news if you don’t know where to start: accessibility isn’t hard. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has guidelines, websites, and accessible social media content. You can follow several basic steps to make your website content more accessible. You can even take some of these guidelines a step further and research ways to make videos easier for people with autism to view or videos for people who have easily-triggered migraines.
There are also web accessibility and video accessibility consultants who can offer advice on increasing accessibility in your content and web pages. Almost all (98%) websites fail to comply with accessibility requirements and limit how people with disabilities surf the web. With a few minor changes, you can create an accessible space that brings all customers, regardless of disability, down your sales pipeline.
Plus, once you get into the habit of adding accessible elements to your videos, creating this content will be second nature. Many online tools have built-in accessibility features, so you don’t even need to add them in yourself.
It’s okay if your content isn’t completely accessible; this is a long-term process with a focus on growth or improvement. Here are a few ways to easily increase the accessibility of your videos without significantly changing the user experience.
1. Add Accurate Captions to Your Video Content
One of the easiest ways to make your content more accessible while immediately increasing your view statistics is to add captions to your videos. One survey of more than 5,600 Americans found that 69% of people watch videos on mute in public places, while 25% watch videos on mute in private. Furthermore, 80% of people said they are more likely to watch a video all the way through if it has captions.
Adding captions is a great way to make your video content accessible to audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it’s also a useful tool to engage hearing viewers. You might notice that your video views increase, the average view duration grows, and more people engage with your call to action because of your captions.
Video captions can also help with SEO. You can transcribe the text and make it the body of a blog post, which is helpful for people who might not want to watch the video. (You can also do this with your podcast content).
One thing to ensure as you add captions is that they are accurate. Some captioning tools are more accurate than others, so it’s important to rewatch your video to make sure the captioning software is useful to the view and isn’t translating anything inappropriately by mistake.
2. Don’t Get Carried Away With Flashy Graphics
Once you realize how fun video content can be, it’s tempting to add flashing text, dramatic graphics, and fun colors throughout your content. This is particularly true if you are replicating a TikTok trend or mimicking the calls to action you have seen on YouTube. However, this content isn’t accessible. Not only can flashing graphics overwhelm people who are neurodivergent, but they are also difficult to process for those who are visually impaired.
Here are a few best practices to follow in your video content to meet web accessibility guidelines:
- Choose contrasting colors. Colors that are too similar might be difficult for some viewers. Look for high-contrast options and learn about the different forms of colorblindness to accommodate these audiences.
- Make sure your text is easy to read. Large, clear fonts can attract the eyes of your viewers. You don’t want to build a call to action that people can’t clearly see or understand.
- Avoid flashing. If you really want to add flashes to your content, consider the three-flashes rule, where the graphic shouldn’t flash more than three times per second. Excessive flashing is overwhelming and could provoke seizures.
Additionally, take steps to verbally describe the graphics you use if they are relevant to the content. Someone who is blind or visually impaired might not know what you are referencing. These descriptions can be as simple as saying, “Call the number on the screen below or dial…”
Clear descriptors can be useful in any video, especially when creating how-to content. Imagine you are creating a script for a broadcast for radio that clearly describes where you are, what you are doing, and what the audience would see if they were with you.
3. Evaluate Your File Sizes and Formats
There are multiple ways to make your videos more accessible without actually changing the content you create. For example, you can increase accessibility by uploading smaller video sizes, using modern file formats, and hosting the video content on popular channels (like YouTube and Facebook).
Many video platforms have built-in accessibility features, which are a huge asset to brands that don’t know how to use them. Screen readers and other assistive tools are built with sites like TikTok in mind and can help people with disabilities engage with the video footage. However, when files are bulky or the format is outdated, they might not be compatible with these tech devices.
Check out the accessibility pages on the social channels you use. Facebook has an accessibility center, and so does YouTube. When you learn how people with disabilities engage with online media, you can better adjust your content to meet their needs.
4. Budget for Sign Language Interpreters
American Sign Language (ASL) is still the standard way of communicating for people who are deaf. While some people can lip read and most viewers will turn the captions on, adding ASL to your videos can elevate your content. This is particularly true if you go live on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, or any other channel. Captions might not be an option for live video, which leaves out these viewers.
Not only are ASL interpreters a valuable way to create accessible, inclusive content, but they can also add a lot of personality to your video footage. If you have ever watched an interpreter at a concert, they do so much more than translate. They convey emotion in the music and contribute to the performance. Some have even gone viral. Your ASL interpreter can elevate your videos in a manner that even hearing viewers will appreciate.
Don’t worry if you have never worked with an ASL interpreter before. You can meet with interpreters in your community and find a good fit for your brand. These professionals can also help you understand the right pace of speaking that feels natural for you without overwhelming them.
5. Include People With Disabilities
People with disabilities are often forgotten or ignored in society. A simple way to make your content more accessible is to mention these users. For example, if you are reviewing a car’s safety features, mention when a particular flashing light would be useful for someone hard of hearing. If there is an extra step or handrail on the tailgate, highlight the feature as a tool for people who might need it.
Mentioning people with disabilities can be as easy as highlighting the transcript in the video comments or introducing an ASL interpreter you are working with. It only takes a few seconds to make sure people feel included.
Create Video Content That Reaches More People
Many video accessibility features benefit viewers without disabilities. One person might prefer to read video captions while watching on mute, while another appreciates the lack of bright colors and flashing graphics after a long workday staring at a computer screen. As you implement more accessibility features, track your metrics. Watch your views and engagement grow as more people discover the value in your content.
At J&L Marketing, we are all about value. Our team looks for ways to elevate your content so you can get the highest ROI possible with your current budget. Don’t let your video footage go to waste because of simple mistakes or a lack of optimization.