How to Make Audio Content More Accessible

How to make audio and video content more accessible

Video and audio are two of the most popular forms of media -- from podcasts and social media videos to YouTube tutorials and recorded interviews. And for many individuals, audio accessibility is what makes it possible for them to access and understand these content formats.

This might be because they are deaf or hard of hearing, or it might be because their reading comprehension is far better than their listening comprehension.

If you run a podcast or publish videos online, it's important to make them fully accessible so that anyone who wants to can enjoy the content. This would include adding captions and publishing transcriptions alongside any audio content.

Let's take a more in-depth look at what audio and video accessibility are, why audiovisual accessibility is important, and what you can do to make your content more accessible.

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What is audio and video accessibility?

Audio and video accessibility is the practice of making these content types usable by everyone, especially people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

That might include adding captions to a video and providing a written transcript alongside any audio content.

Why is video and audio accessibility important?

Video and audio accessibility is important as it makes content usable and understandable for a wider range of people. Everyone deserves equal access to digital content, and focusing on accessibility helps to promote this equality.

There are even global guidelines in place to encourage web content accessibility. Created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) sets the global standard for accessibility.

According to these guidelines, all pre-recorded audio should be accompanied by a transcript, and all pre-recorded videos should feature captions too.

How to make your content more accessible

  • Add captions to video content

Whether you're creating videos for social media, training material, your company's website, or YouTube, adding synchronized captions to your content will make it more accessible. Ideally, users should be able to turn captions on or off based on their needs and preferences. Standards for captioning can be found on the W3C website.

  • Transcribe audio content

Audio-to-text transcriptions should be shared alongside both audio and video files so that users have all the information needed to understand the content.

You could include basic transcripts -- a text version of the audio -- or descriptive transcripts -- which also include a written description of any visual information that might be needed to understand video content. Descriptive video transcripts are designed for people who are both deaf and blind.

You could upload these transcripts to your website, and even make them available as a downloadable file.

  • Use an accessible media player

Your media player should be easy to use and allow users to pause and rewind when needed. It should also give users the ability to change the volume, text style, and positioning of captions to make the experience of watching your video as manageable and enjoyable as possible.

  • Follow global guidelines

If in doubt, refer to the WCAG to make your content fully compliant with the guidelines that have been set out.

How making your content more accessible can help your business

Whether you're creating content for your business or a personal podcast, making your audio and video content more accessible can have a range of benefits:

  • Makes your business more inclusive

Greater inclusivity is always a good thing, and being more inclusive protects you from discrimination liabilities and will improve public perception of your business.

  • Reach a wider audience

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people globally live with hearing loss. This is an enormous population that your business can reach by making your content more accessible.

As well as accessibility, providing written transcriptions of audio and video content has a whole host of other benefits. Find out how to get an audio transcription and discover the other benefits of transcriptions.

Written By Katie Garrett

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