How can organizations plan an accessible video production?

Videotapes, DVDs, and streaming videos on the web can be engaging instructional tools. However, the audio portions of these media are inaccessible to individuals with hearing impairments, and visual information that is not otherwise communicated through audio is inaccessible to individuals with visual impairments. These accessibility barriers can be avoided when principles of universal design are employed in the design process, when consumer evaluation is conducted at formative stages of development, and when captions of the audio content and audio descriptions of visual content are provided. For an overview of access solutions, see the article How do I make multimedia accessible?

A "universal design" approach to the creation of videotapes is one in which the production team takes into account the wide variety of characteristics of potential viewers during the design process in order to make them accessible to a broad audience. For more information about universal design, consult the article: What is universal design?

To plan an accessible video production, follow these steps:

  • Consult individuals with disabilities (through focus groups, surveys, and/or individual consultations) regarding content, format, and presentation.
  • Solicit formative evaluations of the video product throughout the creation of product drafts. Evaluators should include individuals with a broad range of abilities and disabilities representing key stakeholders.
  • During scripting, ensure that the most critical content is spoken (including acknowledgments and content information at the end of the presentation) and that enough silence is provided to accommodate audio description that will be added to a version of the product that is fully accessible to viewers who are blind.
  • Decide whether to use open captions (which are always visible) or closed captions (viewer can turn captions on and off). This decision should be largely based on the purpose of the product and its intended audience. For an overview of issues to consider, consult the article What is the difference between open and closed captioning?
  • Ensure that photographers are careful during filming to include adequate screen space for captions. Consider affixing duct tape to the bottom of their viewing screens to prevent them from filming key details in the area where captions will appear.
  • Consider presenting captions in a large font and upper- and lowercase letters, since some viewers with hearing impairments may additionally have low vision.
  • Arrange for menu items on DVDs to be spoken aloud.

For further information and resources consult Creating Video and Multimedia Products that are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments.