Video Best Practices: Be Accessible

I presented these slides at LavaCon 2015. My hope is that people will comment with their experiences and feedback. I’d love to hear of any resources to add, especially if it comes from small businesses.

Accommodating visual, hearing, and other disabilities isn't just the law, it's a good idea for many reasons.
Accommodating visual, hearing, and other disabilities isn’t just the law, it’s a good idea for many reasons.

Not only will follow the law, you reach more people if you accommodate disabilities. Most (all?) of the accommodations are just good UX and will help mainstream people too.

Americans with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and its 2008 amendments ( requires that public programs and services be accessible to people with disabilities, unless doing so would result in an undue burden.

Hearing impaired accommodations:

  • Captions, also useful for people who are at work who aren’t allowed to use audio, or people laying in bed at night with their phones who don’t want to wake partners, children, etc.
  • Transcripts, also useful for print and go as well as search engine optimization (SEO engines can’t scan videos for content).

Visually impaired accommodations:

  • Use alt tags to label all your images and videos.
  • Consider audio description as another language. You may have your English version, Spanish version, German version, and then an Audio Described version.
  • Transcripts/captioning also helps visually impaired people, who usually have programs that will read text aloud.
  • Be aware of color, as some people are color-blind. Don’t use red alone to denote important information, use bold, underline, etc. If you’re selling a brown shirt, don’t rely on the picture. Label the image as brown.
  • Use a strong color contrast between text and background.

Accommodations for other disabilities:

  • Some people have repetitive stress or other physical disabilities that restrict movement. Also think about meeting the needs of older people.
  • Include a static version of a quickly-displayed call to action near the video or in the script. (Again, also useful for the mainstream user.)
  • Keep instructions simple and to a minimum to avoid confusion. Allow a second or two between steps to allow the user to pause.

Photo credits:


For further reading:

  • Making video accessible for speech and visual impairments
  • General tips for making web sites accessible
  • Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE)
  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative