Molly Watt (pictured), consultant from Macclesfield-based User Experience and design agency, Sigma, explains tools and techniques to make content and information shared more inclusive and accessible.
Studies show that 55% of the UK public access the news online. In light of the current climate, where public information, video explainers on social media, Gifs and infographics are themselves going viral, I’m sharing some tips and guidance on how to ensure your content is fully accessible to all. It has always been important for everyone to have equal access to world news and even more so in times of worry. Not only because it’s a moral obligation but also a possible health risk for individuals to not be fully informed.
The importance of video captions
It’s not just the hard of hearing/Deaf community that benefit from content being subtitled. This is just the starting point: the deaf community is comprised of over 350 million people worldwide, 11.5 million of which live in the UK.
Captions also improve comprehension for a variety of different audiences. For example, people who have:
- English as a second language
- learning disabilities
- attention deficits
- situational access needs, such as – a busy train and they are unable to play sound
In today’s most concerning climate, more than ever, people are looking online for resources to rely upon. Studies have previously shown that 85% of users on social media are watching video content with no sound.
From an organisational and brand perspective, there are clear reasons for captioning content. Besides the moral obligation, it improves overall user experience and can increase search engine optimisation (SEO), as Google favours informative content.
In the US and EU, there are laws and accessibility directives that suggest if a company or public body is not creating accessible content, they are discriminating and could face legal action. But captions don’t need to be viewed as a legally required add-on because when done right they can be seen as part of a creative, responsible strategy that draws more people in.
Transcripts vs captions
Transcripts and captions are different things, and both important. Transcription is simply a text document, and unlike captions, there is no time information attached to the script. Captions are divided into text sections that are synchronised with video and audio content. Both ‘verbatim’ transcripts and captions should portray both speech and sound effects as well as identify different speakers.
Why transcription matters
Transcripts offer a great alternate for users who would benefit from having audio and video content scribed. Some assistive technologies used by the disabled population cannot access video and/or audio content. In this instance, transcripts would be invaluable to those users.
Radio shows and podcasts should not be overlooked. Transcripts make these services accessible. Transcripts have the same benefits captions do, such as improving comprehension, greater user interaction and again, they can help with SEO. As an example, read how transcription improved This American Life’s SEO by over 6%.
Transcripts will not meet accessibility standards alone; however, they can contribute greatly by being:
- the first step for captioning
- the best solution to make radio and/or podcasts accessible
- easier to translate into other languages
- helpful for those with English as a second language, as well as people living with various cognitive and visual disabilities
- being more compatible with assistive technologies in a text document format.
Read more on how to include video and live captions on content, and other ways of ensuring accessible content on the Sigma website.