Accessible video content considerations

In this section we’ve broken accessible video content into two parts:

 

Audio content

People learn differently, and many learners may only be listening to all — or part — of your course, without watching the video portion. Also, learners may take the course on a mobile device and rely on audio instruction and descriptions. Learners who are living with blindness or vision loss may not be able to view the on-screen content and may only be listening to the audio. Similarly, learners who are living with deafness or hearing loss will be placing much of their focus on the captions. To make your course as accessible as possible you should ensure that your course content can be conveyed effectively through audio content and captions alone. 

Making your audio content stand on its own is a best practice in course creation. There are three methods you can use to make your video’s audio content accessible:

  • Explain your slide visuals
  • Speak plainly and simply
  • Provide closed captioning

 

Explain your slide visuals or what you’re doing

When visual content is important to the subject being covered, it’s helpful to explain what is on the screen. For instance: 

 

Titles and headings

Always read the titles of your slides aloud when you start speaking or integrate them into your first few sentences on the subject. Since the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness estimates there are 295 million people living with visual impairments, 43 million of which are living with blindness, visual descriptions can make a big difference to learners.

 

Instead of: “Just read the slide or the text on screen.”

You might say: “This slide outlines the three primary areas I’ll cover in this section: video production, high-quality audio, and formatting of PDFs.”

 

Images and interactions

When explaining images, avoid words that rely on sight such as using color or direction, for instance: “click on the square” or “the box on the left side of the page” or “the big blue text.” 

 

Instead of: “So I just go like that, and it’s easily fixed.” 

Explain what you’re doing: “I select the entire paragraph with my mouse, then I click the `Left Align’ button to fix it. I also could have found this choice under the Format menu.”

 

Also, don’t skip steps when explaining interactions. 

 

Instead of: “I’ll want to go line by line here, and boom, now I’m in the routine!”

Be precise and clear: “I’m going to step through this code by choosing F7 after I hit the breakpoint in that routine. I could also have chosen the ‘Step Into Button’ from the top navigation panel.”

 

Speak plainly and simply

It’s safe to assume that two-thirds of your learners will know your language as a second language. Figures of speech, idioms, jargon, and slang can be hard to interpret for those learners. Make the language of your audio script clear and avoid colloquialisms to support as many learners as possible.

Speak slowly and thoughtfully, using plain and simple language. Take time to introduce new topics and define unfamiliar words or acronyms. This will help all learners, especially those who may require more time to understand the content or read the text.

 

Provide closed captioning

The World Health Organization estimates that 430 million people have disabling hearing loss, and many will rely entirely on captions when taking your course. While we provide auto-generated captions and transcripts for courses in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, there is potential for error depending on the quality of your audio, technical terminology, and even an instructor’s accent. It’s a best practice to check that everything is correct after the captions are generated. Captions should reflect exactly what was said in the videos.

  • Ensure that any proper names, special jargon, and technical language has been displayed and spelled correctly.
  • Include any filler words or stumbles, such as “um” or “oops,” since correcting or removing these can create cognitive dissonance for users who are listening to the audio and reading the captions.

For courses in languages other than English, Portuguese, and Spanish, please refer to our support documentation to learn more about how you can upload your own captions.

 

Summary of best practices for audio content accessibility

  • Try to make your audio script stand on its own like an audiobook. When possible, do not have your script dependent on visuals.
  • When visual content is not just for decoration, explain what is on the screen. 
  • Allow time for your learners to consume your content. Speak at a measured pace that is not too quick. And pause to allow time for learners to understand your content, both audio and visual.
  • Use plain language. Keep sentences and paragraphs concise. 
  • Use simple words and avoid overly casual or colloquial language, abbreviations, and jargon. It’s also best to avoid complicated metaphors and idioms. 
  • Be clear and precise with your language and repeat essential points to emphasize key concepts. Saying the same thing in different ways can be helpful to improve your learners’ comprehension.
  • Provide accurate captions for all of your spoken content.

 

Visual content

Presenting polished and cohesive visual content is a big part of a course, but many learners have visual impairments ranging from near-sightedness or far-sightedness and red-green color blindness to full loss of color vision as well as blurry or tunnel vision and blindness. By following a few basic principles, you can ensure that visual content is accessible to as many people as possible.

 

Font style & font size

  • Avoid ALL CAPS in lengthy passages since they can be difficult for many people to read. We recommend limited use of all caps except for section headlines or where strong emphasis is important to the subject. 
  • Ensure the font size is large enough to be seen on the smaller screens of mobile devices. We recommend using at least a 12-point font, but ideally 14- to 16-point or larger.
  • Use accessible fonts whenever possible to increase readability. Most accessible fonts are sans serif or sans. More specifically, Tahoma (sans serif), Verdana (sans serif), and Arial (sans serif) are among the most recommended fonts when it comes to accessibility. 

 

Color

  • Indicate content in a way that does not depend on someone being able to differentiate between colors. Learners who have vision loss or are color blind may have difficulty comprehending a video or resource which relies on colors or has low color contrast. 
  • Pay attention to color contrast as it depends on both hue (the color) and value (lightness/darkness). For example, combinations of blue and yellow or black and yellow have high contrast since they differ in both hue and value. However, red-orange and orange combinations have low contrast since they have similar hues and values. This online color contrast analyzer can help to verify your contrast ratios are within accessible ranges. 
  • Imagine any charts or graphs in your video are printed in black and white. Would everyone be able to understand the graphics? If not, use text labels in addition to color to differentiate the content.
  • Avoid the use of bright or neon colors. Bright colors can make understanding the content more challenging for cognitively impaired users.

There are more examples and recommendations for high color contrast in this article on course content accessibility considerations.

 

Other

  • Keep things simple. Some people might find a complex visual scene confusing. They may not be able to focus on the subject of the video.
  • Avoid using flashing content. Fast flashing content (more than 3 flashes per second), especially when large and bright, can cause seizures in photosensitive learners. Flashing red content should be avoided entirely. 
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Typos or poor grammar can distract a student from understanding your content, especially if their primary language is different from yours. It can also affect the impression of you as an instructor. We highly recommend using spell-check and grammar-check features on your final materials or ask a friend or colleague to proofread them.

 

Summary of best practices for visual content accessibility

  • Avoid using ALL CAPS.
  • Always ensure that any text and graphics are large enough to be read by people with partial vision or using smaller screens. Use a font size no smaller than 12 points. 
  • Use accessible fonts.
  • Make sure colors are distinguishable from one another and have sufficient contrast between content and background. Avoid using bright or neon colors.
  • Avoid using color alone to convey information. 
  • Keep the background uncluttered and use clean layout and design. It should be clear how to navigate your content.
  • Use illustrations, icons, etc. to supplement text, but not replace it. 
  • Avoid fast flashing content to reduce the potential of inducing seizures for photo-sensitive learners. 
  • Check spelling and grammar.

 

Links to other accessibility and inclusivity articles

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