ADA/508/504 and Video Accessibility

A little old, but still highly relevant, from the November 2013 Streaming Media West conference came a session titled “Best Practices for Implementing Accessible Video Captioning” . Representatives from Dell, T-Mobile, and Google/YouTube discussed video captioning, mobile video, and video translation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) covers federal, state, and local jurisdictions, and applies to a wide range of domains, including employment, public entities, telecommunications, and places of public accommodation.

Section 508 includes requirements that  federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to employees and the public with disabilities. Included in this overall specification, captions are required to be available with any video content.

Section 504 entitles people with disabilities to equal access to any program or activity that
receives federal subsidy, which can include web content provided by educational institutions and government agencies.

Beyond the federal and state requirements, of course, is the general responsibility to your customers, learners, and general public. Not only does increased accessibility permit a broader potential audience but, additionally, people differ in their learning styles. Providing captions and transcripts with your video not only increases accessibility but can help the overall efficacy and engagement of your video content for everyone.

One significant concern is cost: transcriptions have to be created, whether by hand of via automated means. Unfortunately, speech-recognition caption engines are still immature and whatever time may be saved through such automation can quickly be nulled by the need to proof and edit the transcriptions.

Finally, note the difference between closed-captioning and transcripts (WebAIM has a good explanation). Transcripts live ‘side by side’ with the video, and can be timed with the video itself…or not. Closed-captioning appears on the video itself (generally) and is specifically timed to the narrative, and even very specific to the speaker.

Closed-captioning tends to be more contextual, however, transcripts are searchable and can add to likelihood of users finding the content….and are generally a necessary first step to creating closed-captions for the video piece.

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One thought on “ADA/508/504 and Video Accessibility

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