Media products for everyone: accessibility in video and audio content

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We all have the right to receive information and learn, regardless of whether we have difficulties with reading or writing, impaired hearing or vision, or other challenges in using online media. The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) was established to safeguard these rights. WCAG is an international, continuously updated database of guidelines for making media content such as videos and audio tracks more accessible.

Finland also has enacted the Act on the Provision of Digital Services (306/2019), which also prescribes the preconditions for the accessibility and usability of services. The law lays down the legal framework for online and mobile applications released by public organisations. Nevertheless, accessibility and its development benefits all online service providers, regardless of whether they represent the private, public or third-party sectors.

What does accessibility mean in terms of  video and audio content? Video is a versatile medium that is becoming increasingly prevalent in digital and online environments. Subtitles make video content significantly more accessible for people with hearing impairments, or poor language skills, or situations where enabling audio is not an option. They can also make it easier to focus on the content.  According to the new accessibility requirements, subtitles must cover not only speech, but also describe other relevant sounds (e.g. the sound of an alarm clock),or the style of music playing (e.g. soft, dramatic, ominous). Subtitles must also indicate who is speaking in situations where the speaker is not in the frame or easily discernible.

Audio description, which consists of brief verbal descriptions of events and objects appropriate moments, such as during breaks in video narration, is another feature of accessibility, which helps people with visual impairments.

In terms of audio content, such as podcasts or talk shows, accessibility usually means providing the audio track in text form. For instance, this can mean transcribing and providing the discussions between a host and guests in a podcast in a separate file that can be downloaded with the episode.

User interfaces of media content should also be accessible. Video and audio players featured on websites or mobile applications should be user-friendly, not complicated. It should not be difficult for the user, for example, to stop playback or enable or disable the audio.

By taking care of accessibility, we make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the society.

 

Lingsoft is here to help you make sure that your audio and video content is accessible to everyone. Read more here.