Do you publish video on the web? Do you include close captions, subtitles, transcriptions or sign language? No! Then it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
Don’t do it to make your website more inclusive and accessible.
Don’t do it to help the deaf and hard of hearing enjoy your website.
Don’t do it because accessible video will improve your SEO, help you be found and make you shed loads of cash.
Do it because Souxsie Spew will come and get you!
Accessible video is good for everyone
It has been shown that making accessible video content is good for for SEO, and of course great for the deaf and the hard of hearing in particular.
Closed captioning is not just for the deaf. According to Wikipedia, in the United Kingdom, of 7.5 million people using TV subtitles (closed captioning), 6 million have no hearing impairment.
I know I am one of them. I am not deaf, but a little hard of hearing and suffer from tinnitus. Self-inflicted from a fondness for loud music and my own guitar playing. My partner, Susan has the hearing of a bat. So if she has an early night, and I want to watch TV, I often turn the sound down low and turn on subtitles. Works for me.
How to make video accessible
The good news is that making video content accessible is not rocket science. YouTube and Vimeo and many of the other major video services support accessible video. Here are five easy wins for accessible video:
- Use high contrast colours, if you display text make it large and on-screen for enough time for people to actually read it.
- Flashing and strobing content is not cool – This can cause seizures and trigger epilepsy or migraine attacks.
- Don’t embed video to auto-play – This is disorientating and particularly bad for people using screen readers. Never use auto-play
- Use an accessible video player
- Provide subtitles, captions, transcripts and sign language – This is not just good for the deaf.
What is the difference between Subtitles, Captions and Transcripts?
Subtitles provide viewers with a video’s dialogue in written form while captions include subtitles plus a written description of other sounds in the video. Transcripts are the complete ‘script’ of the video’s dialogue.
Transcription or translation of the dialogue, suitable for when the sound is available but not understood (e.g. because the user does not understand the language of the media resource’s audio track). Overlaid on the video.
Transcription or translation of the dialogue, sound effects, relevant musical cues, and other relevant audio information, suitable for when sound is unavailable or not clearly audible (e.g. because it is muted, drowned-out by ambient noise, or because the user is deaf). Overlaid on the video; labeled as appropriate for the hard-of-hearing.
~ W3C Recommendations
How to add subtitles and closed captions to YouTube video
Visit YouTube to learn more about adding subtitles and captions.
Transcripts are simple, as they only contain the text of what was said in the video and don’t require any time codes. The key benefit of a transcript is automatic timing – once you have added your transcript, speech recognition technology automatically matches your captions with what is said in the video.
How to create transcripts for YouTube video
To create transcripts for YouTube you have 2 options:
1, Type the text directly in YouTube. Hint: Go to your video manager and click Add Captions
2, Create a transcript file:
Create a plain text document (.txt).
Use a blank line to force the start of a new caption
Use square brackets to indicate background sounds.
For example, [music] or [thunder]. Add >> to identify speakers or change of speaker. For example:
>> FRED: Wow, this T Rex curry sauce is hot Barnie.
>> BARNIE: It sure is Fred!
Transcripts are great not only for the deaf but also for SEO and Learning
Pages with transcripts earned an average of 16% more revenue than they did before transcripts.
Likely related to increases in incoming traffic through long-tail keyword searches resulting from matches in the transcripts
Transcripts are also proven to help people learn and help reinforce the content of your video. Transcripts are cool.
I never realised that there is no universal sign language. British Sign Language (BSL) only shares 31% of identical signs to American Sign Language. BSL was only formally recognised by the UK government as a language in it’s own right in 2003!
However, creating video with sign language support can be a great way of targeting the deaf and hard of hearing. Sign language is not just a translation of English or another language. It is a language in it’s own right with it’s own syntax.
Even in the UK, there’s three or four different ways of signing “16”, at least two ways for words like “school”, and the same sign is used for uncle, auntie, cousin and battery (differentiated only by non-manual features i.e. mouth pattern), and a different sign for hundred, strange and Russian. It then all comes down to the context used, the same as we’d know the word “post” as a verb or noun by the context. BSL is not just a set of signs that match up one-to-one with spoken and written English (that’s something separate called Sign Supported English) – it is a full language, with it’s own syntax, grammar and word-order. There’s also a variant that is a different again, aimed at toddlers and young children, called Makaton.
~ Gary Jones
So to ‘speak the lingo’ of your deaf visitors will obviously give you a real advantage if you’re trying to reach this market.
If you would like to learn more about sign languages and you’re in the UK you can find a local course provider.
Accessible Video in WordPress
WordPress is great because of the many people who freely contribute to this open-source software. Good people like Joe Dolson who works hard to make WordPress more accessible and inclusive.
Accessible Video Library solves a problem in WordPress: the ability to manage videos and manage critical associated media including captions, transcripts, and subtitles for each video.
In WordPress 3.6, WordPress incorporated the MediaElements.js library for showing videos. It’s a good library, and includes native support for captions and internationalization, is keyboard accessible, and supports YouTube.
However, the WordPress implementation doesn’t provide any method to add captions, subtitles, or reference YouTube videos. You can always embed YouTube videos using oEmbed, but these videos don’t have much at all in the way of keyboard support.
Accessible Video Library gives you a custom post type that you can use to manage your video media. You can upload captions in .SRT or .DFXP format, upload subtitles also in .SRT or .DFXP format, use the content of the post to include a video transcript, and can reference YouTube videos.
I still have a lot to learn about accessibility and this is in no way meant to be a definitive guide to accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing. It is just a start. I hope you find it useful, and encourage you to leave a comment on how this post could be improved or have other cool resources related to accessibility. My accessibility journey only started a couple of weeks ago at the WordCamp London Contributor Day where I sat on the Accessibility table.
I hope this has piqued your interest and hope it may inspire you to make WordPress and the web better for everyone. I also hope it may bring you shed loads of cash as well, if that floats your boat!
UK Deaf and Hearing Loss Resources
- British Deaf Association
- Action on Hearing Loss
- Royal Association for Deaf People
- Signature UK Local Course Providers
- Wiltshire and Dorset Deaf Association Courses
Beware of Siouxsie Spew!
Say Howdy to Siouxsie Spew, the twin sister to Vicious Sid. You could say howdy, shout or even scream her name but she won’t reply. Siouxsie is not rude, she is deaf. But it doesn’t stop her playing guitar. Very loudly.
She doesn’t hear the melodies. She feels them. So does everyone in her neighbourhood. Her approach has all the subtlety of an earthquake. She tunes her Gibson SG to D, she loves the way she can feel this lower register all over her. Did I mention she likes to play at a very high level of volume? Siouxsie plugs into a room full of modded 400 Watt Marshall Bass amplifiers feeding a warehouse packed full of 4 x 12 inch speaker cabinets.
No one will jam with Siouxsie. Lemmy, Slash, Kirk, Eddie, Angus and Ozzy have refused to play with her. No one has ever recorded her play either. No microphone can handle the sound pressure level that her punk rock power chords generate. Sabbath, Metallica, Motorhead, The Who, AC/DC or Led Zeppelin are like meditating monks in comparison to the volume of little ‘ol Siouxsie. She is the loudest thing on the planet. Her music is like 100 jackhammers slamming pavement, combined with a melody of laser sharp screeching. Like a million rabid, tortured cats screaming a banshee howl. Her punk rock infused riffs are out of this world.
She is the Charles Bronson of accessibility. Forget to add captions, then you may wake to find Souxsie standing ontop of your chest. Her Marshall cabinets surrounding your bed; wheeled in on silent castors by specially trained Ninja road crew. With a glint in her eye she’ll bring down her razor sharp plectrum onto her reinforced stainless-steel guitar strings.
The ringing in your ears will be the very last thing you hear…
Wapuu, Wapuunk! and Siouxsie Spew
One of the highlights of WordCamp London was Scott Evans and his punk themed WordCamp London 2015 Artwork and of course Wapuunk!. Siouxsie Spew and Wapuunk! are derivatives of the open source Wapuu and released under the GPLv2. You can contribute to the Wapuu archives on the official repository.