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Video Accessibility Checklist for Content Creators

Creating video content with better accessibility does more than just provide an inclusive experience, it maximizes the potential of your media to engage with everyone. Content creators who aren’t using a video accessibility checklist to create more inclusive content are leaving opportunities on the table and missing out on, and possibly disenfranchising, a large audience.

Today, we’re examining the importance of accessibility as well as providing a video accessibility checklist for content creators so your media will perform better on social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Use this checklist before you publish your next video to see areas of improvement and opportunity.

Importance of Video Accessibility

Content creators play a critical role in the accessibility of media for all viewers across social media, websites, forums, and more. While targeted to mean accessibility for all, some of the largest groups affected by it are blind individuals as well as those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Video accessibility is an ongoing and evolving subject with many forms of media being left open to interpretation and the responsibility of content creators. There are a series of laws in effect in the United States surrounding video and media accessibility, governing what certain public entities are required to do for inclusivity. These are:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act: This law states that materials made available by public entities must be accessible. It includes state and local governments, as well as “places of public accommodation.”
  • Rehabilitation Act: Applying specifically for federal government entities only, this requires them to add captions to online video. Section 508 specifically applies to electronic media and ensures things like lectures posted online at public universities must be captioned for accessibility.
  • 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act: This law specifies that any video content being aired on television must contain captions in any online version.

While these three laws have sought to improve video accessibility, it mostly applies to government entities and larger public forums. What about social media content creators and platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, where billions of people around the globe digest media every day?

These social media giants are making changes for video accessibility. For example, YouTube offers a variety of accessibility options including the ability to navigate the site via the keyboard. TikTok has published its step-by-step list1 of ways to increase video accessibility on its platform, but it’s hidden in the content creator portal where many may overlook it. While these platforms are making changes to become more inclusive, it’s up to content creators to continue to lead the way for video accessibility to include everyone in their audience. Not only is it ethical content creation, but it opens the doors to reach new groups of people you were otherwise missing.

Video Accessibility Checklist

To help you create inclusive content and reach a wider audience, we’ve put together this video accessibility checklist. Use it to plan future content as well as assess ways you can repurpose or republish past content for better accessibility for all.

Video Accessibility Checklist

Before you publish your media, look through this list again to see if you’ve overlooked anything or if there are adjustments to make. Each of these items makes for more inclusive content and helps you reach a wider audience with the potential for better media overall performance.

1. Include Captions or Subtitles

One of the most important items on a video accessibility checklist is adding captions or subtitles to your media. Adding captions to video helps those who may be Deaf or Hard of Hearing follow along without having to worry about missing anything. Today’s platforms like YouTube and TikTok offer auto captions, but they are often unreliable and may contain incorrect captioning for the dialogue in your video.

Instead, content creators can use third-party captioning apps like MixCaptions to add captions to video. These captions, called open captions, boost video accessibility further by burning the captions directly onto the video itself. This removes the need for those wanting or needing captions to toggle them on, engaging them immediately.

According to web accessibility thought leader WebAIM2, captions should always be:

  • Synchronized: Captions and subtitles should be synced to the dialogue or descriptions they provide for maximum accessibility.
  • Equivalent: Captions and subtitles should accurately reflect the audio they represent. This highlights the shortfalls of auto captions and why content creators should be adding captions to video before publication.
  • Accessible: Content creators should use caption fonts and colors that are easily readable.

2. Provide Audio Transcripts

Audio transcripts should be on every content creator’s video accessibility checklist for platforms where this feature is available. Providing a full video transcript alongside the media itself allows viewers to follow along more easily. While this isn’t an available solution at this time for platforms like TikTok or Instagram due to limited video description characters, content creators can add audio transcripts to the description of YouTube videos for better accessibility.

It is recommended that content creators use both captions and audio transcripts rather than limit viewers to one or the other.

3. Use Text-to-Speech for Narration

Text to speech technology (TTS) is useful for the visually impaired and blind communities. It allows these viewers to hear audio rather than have to rely on reading captions. This is an example of how content creators should be using a video accessibility checklist to check off all the boxes for inclusive media. Adding captions to video isn’t enough on its own. TTS apps add voice over to video easily, offering all viewers the ability to take in your content the way it is intended.

Platforms like TikTok and Instagram have added TTS voice options to their editing toolkits for creators to use, but these voices are used so often they become saturated on the platform, resulting in media that doesn’t stand out. Third-party voice over apps like MixVoice offer content creators a more complex AI voice generator, giving them more AI voice actor options from which to choose. With these apps, you can also easily narrate video in other languages and accents, maximizing the effects of voice over localization and appealing to a wider range of targeted audiences.

4. Consider Color Contrast in Video

Color contrast is an entry on this video accessibility checklist that many content creators overlook. Where captions and TTS voice over are more obvious inclusivity considerations, making sure there is a color contrast between main subjects of a a video and the background also helps with inclusivity. Those with visual impairments or who may be blind often struggle with viewing media when the colors between main subjects and background objects are too closely related.

Choosing fonts for captions that provide color contrast is equally important. Where the default for many are black or white fonts, scenes in videos change and these may bleed into the background, making captions difficult to read during those segments. Yellow was a common caption color to stand out from the background, but this may also be impacted. 

Instead, content creators should consider selecting contrasting font outlines and fill colors to provide more contrast from the background. You may also add a background behind the captions to provide a natural contract for your script. Common color combinations to improve accessibility are warm and cool color combos.

Not only does this box on your video accessibility checklist improve inclusivity, but it immediately adds more visual interest to your media.

5. Add Warning for Flashes and Other Triggers

Flash warnings and other photosensitivity warnings for potential triggers are a crucial part of this video accessibility checklist. Certain video effects may trigger photosensitive epilepsy or other health conditions in viewers. Platforms like TikTok have added toggles for content creators to add a warning to their videos for events like this, however it’s vital that creators add it to all platforms where they publish their media.

6. Provide Subtitle Translation

Where captions and subtitles are most commonly considered for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, there are more uses that content creators should consider for inclusivity and better media performance. A video subtitle translator tool incorporates those who may be non-native speakers of your language into your video accessibility checklist. With subtitle translations, you’re able to reach a wider range of viewers for better engagement and longer viewing times.

7. Toggle Animated Thumbnails

A video accessibility checklist isn’t just about the media itself, but how it is presented on the platform where it’s published. Platforms like TikTok may have automatic animated thumbnails for videos, which begin to play as users scroll through search screens. This can present a challenge for the visually impaired or blind who benefit from static imagery to recognize videos in these areas. TikTok has given content creators an option to toggle animated thumbnails off for any videos you publish, adding to inclusivity for all viewers.

8. Consider Overall Platform Accessibility

Closing out our video accessibility checklist is considering overall platform accessibility before publishing. Does the platform you’ve chosen offer accessibility features for viewers? Are they falling behind on inclusivity? Choosing which platforms offer the most inclusive viewing experience forces them all to compete to do better and build more inclusive interfaces.

Video Accessibility Resources for Content Creators

Pair these resources with this video accessibility checklist to create better content for all viewers:

Before you publish your next video, take a look at this video accessibility checklist and make sure you’re checking off the boxes. Not only does this make your media more inclusive, but it boosts its maximum performance potential. Content creators following a video accessibility checklist like this will inevitably create better content for all.

Additional Resource References:

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