Video content is everywhere on the Internet. Videos provide a short, simple way to convey a message. Researchers predict that 82% of web traffic by 2020 will be in video form. That’s why you should ensure all users have access to your video content. 

Making your videos accessible is not only important for compliance with regulations, but also for meeting users’ demands. According to the Verizon Media report, mobile videos are mainly watched with the sound off. The report recommends captioning ad videos, too, because consumers watch longer when the video is captioned. Read on to learn how to make your video content accessible.

What Is Accessibility for Videos?

A video is accessible when it is produced and delivered in a way that all members of the audience can access its content. An accessible video includes features such as captions or a transcript. 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a list of requirements that videos need to meet to be accessible. WCAG consists of a number of principles oriented to make video content accessible to all types of audiences. According to these principles, web content, including video, should be:

  • Perceivable—the video should be presented to users in the way they can perceive it. This includes making the content adaptable. Content can be presented in several ways without losing information. The content should also be distinguishable.
  • Operable—this means all functionality should be operable from a keyboard and should be easily navigable. In addition, users should have enough time to read and consume content. 
  • Understandable—the information in the content and the user interface should be understandable. This includes making the content readable, the pronunciation clear, and keeping unusual words to a minimum. 
  • Robust—the content should be understandable for user agents, including readers and other types of assisting technology. 

The “Silent Video” Trend

Studies show that many consumers, especially in the younger demographics, prefer viewing videos without sound. This, of course, varies with the platform. Most Facebook users opt to watch videos without sound, while on YouTube the opposite is true.  

Companies should try to make their video content understandable in silent mode. Below, you’ll find tips for creating an attractive video without sound.

Start with a bold statement

The first three seconds are your window of opportunity to capture the attention of your viewer. Use compelling images, bold text, and colors. 

Avoid interview style

Talking heads style video is more appropriate to academic content. Use interesting footage, backgrounds, and action shots. 

Focus on the plot

Tell a story with images. You can use animations or humans. Introduce the plot in the first few seconds of the video. Animated infographics or comics can go a long way in explaining your storyline without sound.

Load-in action

Video Stills

The video should function much like a silent movie from the 1900s. The action and movements should substitute the lack of audio. Adding subtitles, text overlays and captions provides context and accessibility. 

Use a call to action in your title

The title needs to entice viewers to watch the videos. Users choose a video by the title and thumbnail. You should make it clear and attractive, without relying on sound. 

Steps to Make Your Video Accessible

1. Build accessibility in the design

You should produce the video with accessibility in mind from the start. For example, attending to the guidelines about high-contrast colors and large text.

2. Choose a video player with accessibility

Some video players don’t support captions or audio descriptions. Others have keyboard traps—a user cannot escape from the video or full screen using the keyboard. You should ensure the video player can display all accessibility features. 

3. Avoid autoplay

Many videos start playing when the page loads. This can be disorienting for people who rely on a screen reader. The voice of the video overlaps the screen reader, which results in a jumble of sounds.

4. No flashing or flickering

Flashing content can trigger migraines or seizures in people vulnerable to them. You can check your video by running it through the Photo-sensitive Epilepsy Analysis Tool (PEAT)

5. Add a transcript

Transcripts are useful for a number of use cases. A transcript can describe a process, transcribe a dialog, or describe what is happening on the screen. The standard practice is putting the transcript on the same page, below the video. 

You may notice that most YouTube videos now have transcripts below the video. Transcripts help hearing-impaired people use video content. Users with a slow Internet connection or in places where they cannot use headphones also benefit from transcripts.

6. Add captions 

Captions describe what is happening on the screen. They are different from subtitles as they include other sounds in the video. For example, if there is music in the video, even without dialog, the captions will read, “Music Playing”.

7. Provide audio descriptions

Visually impaired people rely on audio description to understand what is happening in the video. The audio description is a spoken audio track that plays along with the video and includes all visual information. 

Why Adding Accessibility Helps Your Website Get Noticed?

Since closed captions and transcripts increase watch time, accessible videos are ranked higher. Incorporating accessibility can help your video get noticed more. Accessible design improves the user experience, making navigating through websites intuitively. The same applies to accessible videos, as they convey the message in an easy to understand way for all users.

Video transcripts help videos get indexed. Search engines still cannot hear what your video is saying. Therefore, search engines rely on the title and the transcription text to index the page. There are many more benefits to making your videos accessible to all users, and it doesn’t have to be a huge effort. You can use free tools and plugins, or hire a professional to help you out.