Media is a great way to share content in an engaging way. You can present images and audio in a way that tells a story, demonstrates a process, or celebrates an achievement. More than other types of content, media requires attention to accessibility requirements from the very beginning. Unlike images or text, media requires more production time and it’s much more challenging to make accessible once it’s published.
You can think of media as a series of moving images. Just like images require alternative text to be accessible, media requires alternatives to be accessible. Unlike static images, media requires alternatives for both the audio and the images. For audio, provide an alternative in the form of captions or transcripts. For images, provide an alternative with audio description or a descriptive transcript.
Common Barriers with media
The most common barriers with media include challenging media players, lack of captions, and lack of descriptions.
1. Challenging Media Players
Some media players are more accessible than others. A good practice to help users navigate the player more effectively is to identify your content with headings and descriptions.
A heading can alert non-visual users that a media player is located in that section of the page. A brief description of the video, including any accessibility features or lack thereof, can also provide non-visual users with crucial details about the content. This gives users the chance to skip over the video if it’s not accessible and instead access a different version, like a separate audio described version or descriptive text transcript.
2. Lack of Captions
When you have dialogue or sounds in your audio track that are critical to understanding the information, they must be included within a caption track.
Captions are a time coded transcript of the dialogue that includes a textual representation of the background noises, sound effects, and speaker identification. May appear at the bottom, top, or side of the screen. Captions can be open (always present and can not be turned off) or closed (turned on or off by the viewer).
Example of Video with Captions
In this video, Web Accessibility Perspectives: Video Captions, learn how captions provide greater accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, may be watching a video in an environment that is too loud or that needs to be quiet, or who prefer reading along as they watch the video.
Video contains captions, but is not audio described. Access a Text Transcript with Description of Visuals for Video Captions at Web Accessibility Perspectives.
3. Lack of Descriptions
When your media includes images that are critical to understanding the information, they must be described. One of the best ways to include audio description is to make it a part of your script.
Example Video with Integrated Audio Description
In this example video, Low Vision: Challenging assumptions and understanding the differences, the speaker is describing the important content as part of the narration. As a result, the information is also included in the audio track and provided captions.
Example Video with Additional Audio Description
In this example video, Web Accessibility Perspectives: Text to Speech, there are additional audio descriptions voiced with a different narrator to describe the action happening in the scene. This is an example of standard audio description, or additional audio track that describes what is occurring in a video during existing pauses in dialog.
Examples of Inaccessible Media
Here are two examples of inaccessible media. Both examples contain text and audio. The text isn’t described in the audio and there isn’t a transcript provided. We also haven’t labeled the videos with a heading to let users know that a media player is present in the section.
Example of More Accessible Media
Spring 2021 Dance Concert
For the Spring 2021 Dance Concert video we labeled the video with a heading and the associated accessibility features in the media. Additionally, we provided a text transcript of the content on the same page as the embedded media. The text transcript includes time-stamps of the individual sections. This is helpful if a viewer wants to quickly find a specific segment of the video to watch.