Webmasters are taking web accessibility (websites, tools, and technologies designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them) more seriously, especially since usability has become critically relevant to SEO — browser behavior signals associated with user engagement have become ranking factors. At UpBuild, accessibility has become a priority, which has become reflected in our SEO audits; we now have an entire section of our SEO Audit devoted to this important topic.
However, making a website accessible is not just for ranking signals. It’s important to make content accessible to a wider range of people, including those with disabilities. People with blindness, low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, etc., all deserve equal access to the web, and focusing on accessibility in design helps make the web a more equal space for everyone.
The Legality of Accessibility
If that’s not enough of a reason to pay more attention to accessibility, maybe Domino’s most recent legal woes will be. The company was hit with a lawsuit from a blind man who alleged that the company’s website and mobile app were not accessible to people with disabilities. Because the site did not provide ALT text on their images, the customer was unable to place an order with his reading software. Domino’s appealed but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, allowing the lawsuit to proceed. Shouldn’t we all have equal access to pizza?
How to Make Your Videos More Accessible
According to Forbes, marketing via video is the way to reach the biggest audience, with the average user spending 80% more time on websites with video than without. However, many companies still overlook the importance of video accessibility, with transcripts and captions treated more as an afterthought than a necessity. Rather than believe the job is complete once the video is published, companies should be concerned not only with how a user will find the video, but how they will consume it — regardless of what technology they’re using to browse the web.
Video captioning is a process that involves “displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information.” The text is then time-coded to each frame to synchronize with the audio of a video.
Captions are necessary to make video content accessible to d/Deaf and hard of hearing viewers. Additionally, they provide assistance to English as second language (ESL) speakers and help viewers with learning disabilities or attention deficits more easily maintain their concentration.
It’s also been found that captions increase video views by 12% compared to videos without captions. Providing captions on video pages are some of the easiest ways of increasing user engagement on your site.
Transcription is the process where speech or audio is converted into a written plain text document. Often with e.g. videos embedded on a web page, transcripts can be found beneath the video, where users can easily access the text.
Transcripts not only help people with hearing disabilities, but it can also greatly help with your site’s SEO. While search engines are getting better at understanding videos, they still can’t necessarily crawl the video’s content. That’s why providing transcripts is so important for your SEO: it gives search engines keyword-rich text and additional context for the page.
Make Google’s job easier by giving them content to crawl. Moz’s Whiteboard Friday is a great example of video transcription. Each video has a written transcription below, which not only provides a rich amount of text for Google but gives users the option of how they want to interact with the content.
How to Transcribe and Caption Videos
It can seem a bit daunting to try to create transcripts and captions for all of your site’s videos, especially if you have a lot of video content. Where do you even begin?
Do It Yourself
One simple way is DIY method. Simply transcribing your own videos is a free way of providing access to your viewers. However, transcribing videos and uploading the transcript to a video service can be a time-consuming task, which is why it may be tempting to save time and use automated captions such as those provided by YouTube. However, it’s been shown that YouTube’s auto-generated free captioning is highly inaccurate and even nonsensical at times.
While I may have just warned against using auto-transcribing options such as YouTube, there is a way to use these services to your benefit. Auto-transcribe videos on the first pass, and then clean it up manually. This is a great middle-ground, saving you some time with the initial grunt work of video transcription, but also saving you money from hiring a service. Doing a second pass will make sure the videos are accurate and helpful to site visitors.
Hire a Service
If you’re not up to doing anything on your own, there’s a multitude of services out there to help. Companies like, Scribie, Rev and iScribed do the hard work for you, providing clear and accurate transcriptions that must abide by certain standards.
Making videos more accessible should no longer be an added benefit across the web, and users shouldn’t have to feel lucky when they come across content that’s captioned or transcribed. While accessibility is becoming more standard as laws are beginning to catch up with the internet, if you want your company to rise above your competitors, ensure that every aspect of your site, including videos, is accessible to anyone who happens to stop by. And yes, Google just might reward you.