Caption Your Videos on Social Media...Why? Because Accessibility Matters.

If you work in public relations, you should take advantage of posting video content on social media to further your organization's mission in engaging the majority of your constituent-base. If you represent a government agency, you must to consider the needs of your audience and especially remain aware that content you post online has to be made available to everyone in your community, regardless of handicap or disability.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly 19% of the United States population was classified as having a disability.

Whether you are interested in fending off the living-dead or need to present an update at a city council meeting (maybe those examples are too similar?), a well produced video will ensure that individuals who are blind or visually-impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, cognitively impaired, or have dexterity or other physical disabilities can completely understand the message.

Notice how neatly the closed-captioning was treated in the Game of Thrones trailer below. When you choose to enable CC's through the settings widget, there are three hierarchies of information that the captioned text provides for users. The captions highlight (1) every character's name, (2) what they are saying, and (3) any live-action on screen; i.e. [Dragons Roaring]. Now, as we shift our focus back to the other living-dead, it is expected to find less-than-attentive closed-captioning has been edited into those regular city council meeting broadcasts. Rarely do we observe text broken into concise hierarchies of information in government the same way that it is done in Hollywood -- run-on sentences and erroneous spelling errors from lazily generated SRT files are a lot more common for organizations that have a utilitarian approach to video production.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that all users, regardless of disability have a comparable experience from all government media. Video has become the single most popular method through which most people choose to consume and absorb news, so naturally, scrutiny amongst community members arises when video content is poorly produced. There is some gray area, but overall there are very few exceptions when it comes to staying compliant within federal and state web accessibility standards. For example, if a video is posted to a governing entity's Facebook page, Public Access Cable Programming, or if it is embedded anywhere else - it should be edited with closed-captioning. This means that to effectively communicate with your audience, you must ensure that the person watching it is able to understand what is happening in both the visual and audio portions of the video.

Including video content on your website helps ensure accessibility and also increases the amount of time visitors spend on your site. Longer time spent on sites builds up a higher level of trust with search engines, and signals to them your site is providing quality content.

Facebook places a higher priority on video content because it’s algorithms have determined that’s what users want. We like to share content that will entertain our friends and move them, and video has a better chance of doing that. More than links, images, or plain text, video has the best chance of getting shared by your followers. 

Tips to make your video accessible:

  • Accessible features like captioning and audio descriptions for hearing and visually impaired individuals.

  • Keyboard navigable features for users who have difficulty operating a mouse.

  • Speech recognition for those not using a keyboard or a mouse.

  • Jumpstart your process and cut down on editing time. Upload your video to YouTube and auto-generate captions that may be edited more accurately later.

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