Making videos and multimedia accessible is easier if you consider accessibility from the beginning. This guide provides information on how to make your videos so that they can be accessible for all students.
General accessible practices for multimedia
- Structure your content clearly – turn your long video into smaller chunks so that it is easy for students to focus.
- Use clear and concise language – introduce new acronyms and discipline-specific language, avoid colloquialisms and be consistent.
- Always use a microphone and reduce background noise – good quality audio benefits all students and is critical for some students with hearing loss.
- Narrate what is on the screen – don’t assume everyone can see what is happening on your screen, so describe essential visual content.
- Be mindful of how you use colour – ensure there is high contrast, that it is not used as meaning and it’s not overwhelming.
- Avoid flashing content – or provide warnings for students susceptible to seizures or vestibular issues.
- Add captions and/or transcripts – a way of reproducing audio content as text.
Planning your video
Structure your content clearly
A clear and logical structure is a foundation of accessible digital content. Breaking your content into manageable chunks can make it easier for students to focus and engage with your content.
When you are planning your video consider multiple smaller videos on a discreet topic rather than one long video. Just make sure you label them consistently.
Use clear and concise language
Ensuring that you use clear language in your subject is important for all students – and critical for some who might find it harder to fill in the gaps.
When you are developing the script for your video, ensure that you:
- Introduce new discipline-specific words and acronyms into your subject.
- Aim for short and simple sentences and paragraphs.
- Provide reasons and context for what to look out for in learning materials.
- Avoid culture-specific slang, idioms, and colloquialisms.
- Be consistent with naming conventions.
- Avoid words from other languages (e.g., use “genuine,” not “bona fide”).
Creating your video
Concentrate on good quality audio
Good audio quality is important when creating a video – it will benefit all students and is critical for some students with hearing loss so they are able to understand the content. This will also help make captions more accurate if you are using automated tools to create them.
To achieve good quality audio for multimedia content:
- Always use a microphone when you are recording
- Reduce background noise when you are recording
Narrate what is on the screen
Don’t assume everyone can see what is happening on your screen – describe essential visual content. When you are using visuals with lots of meaning in your videos, it’s important to keep in mind that students with vision loss will miss this content.
When you are creating your video, narrate and describe visual content. It is important to be specific e.g. for instructional videos avoid saying “click this” but refer to the button or link that needs to be selected.
If visual content is not narrated during the creation of the video, then an audio description might need to be created at a later stage. This is an expensive third-party service that will create a separate video that puts descriptions in between text. Depending on your multimedia platform, you might also be able to use the video you create with a separate audio track for the audio descriptions.
Be mindful of how you use colour
Colour needs to be used mindfully in your videos as improper usage can create barriers for some students. If there’s not enough contrast between the text and the background, some students might not be able to see the content. If it’s used as the only means to convey meaning, students who are colour blind won’t be able to pick up on what you mean. If it’s used too much, it can be overwhelming and confusing for students with conditions like dyslexia.
If you are using tools like PowerPoint as the foundation for creating your video, then you can use in-built tools like Check Accessibility to check that you have sufficient colour contrast between text colour and background colour. You can also use tools like WhoCanUse to test different colour combinations.
Avoid flashing content
Flashing content can include anything with sudden visual changes on the screen. For students who are susceptible to seizures, anything that has strobing, flickering, or flashing effects can trigger an episode. For students with vestibular issues this content can cause dizziness and nausea. If a student has difficulties reading or concentrating it can prevent them from getting the information they need.
We recommend avoiding flashing content or if it cannot be avoided, make sure you include a warning before the flashing content.
Delivering your video
Add captions and/or transcripts
Both transcripts and captions are ways of reproducing audio content as text. Not only are they essential for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, they are also extremely helpful for many students who benefit from having a text version of the content, such as those who are not expert users of English, or those who have cognitive impairments.
Closed captions vs open captions
Closed captions or CC can be toggled on and off while the video plays. They are a separate file (.SRT or .VTT). Closed captions are the preferred method of captions as they provide more flexibility for the person watching the video. The media player that you are using will need to allow closed captions for this to work.
Open captions are ‘burnt’ onto a video, usually in the editing process, and cannot be toggled on and off. This is a great option when you know your video is going to appear on a platform that does not enable closed captions.
Transcripts versus captions
Transcripts are useful to provide for audio-only content like podcasts.
Captions are useful to use for videos, so that students can keep track of the visuals in the video in addition to captions. Transcripts might also be helpful in these instances.
It’s important to edit captions when they have been auto-generated so that you can ensure they are accurate and provide the correct information to students.
Understanding the Accessibility Basics
For further information on ensuring your content is more accessible, visit the ADCET Accessibility Basics.
This information was developed in conjunction with the LX.lab at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) ,