Provide Alternatives for Time-based Media
Time-based media is prerecorded or live audio-only, video-only or both together as synchronized media. Providing alternatives for these media types will enable millions of people who are deaf or hard of hearing to benefit from the content within your media. It also helps people who need to access the media but are in a quiet public space with no headphones. Plus it gives a way for people on devices with too low of bandwidth to play the media to still read the content. When you provide text transcripts, search engines will index the content making it searchable by all.
Minimum Accessibility Requirements for Prerecorded and Live Audio and Video
Follow these tips to make the most of your media content and provide the best user experience for everyone.
- Provide alternatives for prerecorded audio-only and video-only content. Provide transcripts for prerecorded audio-only presentations. For video clips that have no sound, provide a note saying “No sound is used in this clip”.
- Provide captions for prerecorded synchronized (video with audio) media. Captions should include all dialogue and important sound effects.
- Provide audio description or media alternative. Provide the text transcript, or a link to it, immediately next to the media. Include correctly sequenced text descriptions of visual and auditory information. Embedded interactive elements, such as links, should be included in the alternative content.
- Provide captions for live audio content. If you have live media coverage, captions must be provided.
- Provide audio description for prerecorded audio. Provide a second, user-selectable, audio track that includes audio descriptions for prerecorded media.
YouTube Video Accessibility
Many of our clients use YouTube as a means to distribute videos to a wide audience. Add captioning to your videos to expand that audience even more.
YouTube’s speech recognition technology automatically creates captions that a visitor can turn on (although they won’t appear in certain circumstances, like if your video has poor sound quality or runs too long). But those captions can be wrong — sometimes, embarrassingly so. Don’t risk letting potential patients get an impression you don’t want them to have. Sure, you can hide auto-captions on your video but you and your visitors will benefit if you edit those captions or create your own from scratch. Learn how to edit and create YouTube captions.
YouTube says the captions you create act as metadata that makes your video appear in more places. That’s true only for captions you add — not YouTube’s auto-captions. And if a YouTube visitor filters his or her search results for captioned videos, your videos will appear in the search results instead of competitors’ uncaptioned uploads.
It’s no surprise that in the first two weeks after Discovery Digital Networks added captions to their YouTube videos, the company gained a 13% increase in views. Take a cue from Google, which also creates custom captions for videos on its primary YouTube channel.
If your hospital serves many foreign-language speakers, you may even consider adding subtitles in a second language. Don’t have an in-house translator? Through Google’s Translator Toolkit, you can request professionally translated subtitles.
Finally, after you’ve done the work of making your YouTube videos more accessible and engaging, make sure a viewer sees your captions or subtitles. Force them to display automatically by adding the tag “cc_load_policy=1” to each video with custom captions. (If users want to turn the captions off, they can still do so by clicking the CC button on each video).
Example YouTube Embed Code with CC Enabled
<iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QRS8MkLhQmM?rel=0&cc_load_policy=1" width="500" height="280"></iframe>
Or, you can add an annotation — such as a little pop-up text box — to a YouTube video to invite users to manually turn on captions or subtitles.
Take it a Step Further with AAA Accessibility
After you meet the minimum accessibility guidelines for time-based media, you may want to go above and beyond to pass AAA level. Here are some tips to try:
- Provide sign language interpretation. For some people, sign language is their first language and they may have limited ability to understand written words. Sign language provides the ability to provide intonation, emotion and other audio information that is reflected in interpretation but lacking in captions.
- Provide extended audio description. Normal audio description provides description of visual elements that are not described on the main soundtrack, but only between pauses in dialogue. The concept of extended audio description is that where the breaks in dialogue are not sufficient to fill the gaps in understanding between the audio and video, the video is periodically paused so a fuller audio description is provided.
- Provide a media alternative. This is to help people who have vision and hearing impairments, making the use of captions and audio descriptions less effective. To meet this criteria, provide all the information that is included in the media in text form so that it may be interpreted by assistive technology.
- Provide text alternatives for live media coverage. If a script is provided and followed, a transcript of the live event can be used. Otherwise a trained captioner can provide a live captioning service.
* Special thanks to Celine Klosterman for her contributions to this article!