Video content is favored among users as well as search engines. For users, video can make even the most complex topic digestible in a matter of minutes. And the search engines know that users often prefer to consume video content if it contains information they're looking for, and so they rank video content higher in search results.

In addition to being easier to understand and consume, video in general is more likely to be shared by users, making it an excellent marketing tool. Videos also capable of being viewed or listened to by anyone, including those with disabilities.

That's why companies should create accessible videos—i.e., those that are 508-compliant, especially in the case of videos distributed by federal government agencies. (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a US law that protects those with disabilities and, inter alia, requires that certain elements, like captions and other audio descriptors, be included with video used by the government or for educational purposes.)

Whether you've already implemented a video strategy or you're looking to add video to your marketing toolkit, here are a few reasons you need to create accessible videos.

First, what are accessible videos?

Accessible videos are those that are produced and provided in a way that makes it easy for anyone to access the content. Primarily, it means the video has the following:

  1. Captions. The text of the script is synced with the video in real-time.
  2. A transcript on the page the video is published. The full script of the video should be written out from start to finish. This is also helpful for people who aren't in a space where they can listen to a video out loud but want to obtain the information provided in the video.
  3. An audio description. Helpful for those who are blind or vision impaired, audio descriptions use the spoken word to describe important visual moments.

In addition, the video should be published so that any media player can access it, and in a way that supports all of those three features. Accessible video players should have controls that can be accessed by keyboard as well as the player itself, and that should be clearly defined. It's also helpful if you don't enable the autoplay feature.

Before you distribute your video, test its functionality on multiple platforms to ensure that no matter what device or browser people are using to watch your video, they can do so effortlessly.

Why do I need to create accessible videos?

Three main reason:

  1. You're not excluding any single market. The Web has made information accessible to people of all ages and abilities. By creating a video that is accessible to all, you're not limiting your customer base or excluding any one group of people. You're creating content that is accessible to your entire audience, old and new. Excluding any one group can lead to losing current supporters and prevents you from connecting with new audiences as well.
  2. You're reaching your audience the way they want to be reached. Whether someone's watching a video through their headphones with the volume all the way up or they're streaming your content during a meeting and only reading the captions you've provided, accessible video means your content is always available for your audience. Depending on the length of your video, your audience may not have the time to watch the entire thing, but they still want to digest and have access to its information. Transcripts grant those who wish to skim the video's information the capability of doing so.
  3. You're abiding by the law and best-practices. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is applicable to video that is used by the government or for educational purposes. Plus, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) lays the ground rules for adding video content to the Web. Some of those rules include text alternatives, time-based media, adaptability, distinguishability, keyboard accessibility, enough time to read and use the content, ease of navigation, input modalities, predictability, and more. (W3C is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.)

People are spending more time watching videos on their laptops and mobile devices. Marketers must adapt to that trend to ensure they are reaching their audience.

It doesn't matter what type of industry you're in; everyone from nonprofit to federal government agencies, educational institutions, and corporate entities needs to create meaningful videos that capture their audience's attention and leave a lasting impression.

That's why it's so important to stay compliant and in front of your target audience with accessible video. You wouldn't want anyone to miss out on the amazing content you spent time and money producing, just because they couldn't properly access it.

* * *

Depending on what you're looking for, the right video production company can provide everything from scriptwriting to shooting, all while making sure the end result is a high-quality video accessible to all.

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image of Patrick Rafferty

Patrick Rafferty is the owner of RaffertyWeiss Media. He has 20+ years of experience as a producer and director of TV spots, corporate image films, and marketing videos.

LinkedIn: Patrick Rafferty