How to make videos available for everyone

Accessible Videos: How to Make Videos that Cater to Everyone

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Ever wanted to play a video on mute but got frustrated because the captions were missing? Or had a small text that made you squint like a 102-year-old?

On the contrary, what about a video course that has its transcripts missing making it difficult to make notes later on?

All these can’t stress enough the need for accessibility in videos.

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is the process of creating digital experiences that everyone can use – including websites, videos, mobile apps, and other digital tools.

It is about providing all users access to the same information regardless of the impairments they may have.

the United Nations recognised it as a basic human right. 

Why should videos be accessible? 

With more and more people watching videos daily, accessibility is a good practice that lets everyone enjoy your videos. Did you know? The World Bank estimates that more than one billion people have a disability.

When a video is inaccessible due to an un-intuitive user interface, it leaves millions of people living with a disability excluded from watching your videos.

Aside from discrimination, it is limiting your business from reaching an entire demographic of viewers who want to engage with your videos.

This gives rise to the need for video accessibility, meaning anyone can get the same message from a video, no matter their disabilities. 

The legality behind accessibility

If the statistics above are not enough to convince you to pay more attention to accessibility, here is a real incident of how Dominos ran into a legal issue in 2019. 

The company faced a lawsuit from a blind man who alleged that their website and mobile app were not accessible to people with disabilities.

The website did not provide the ALT text on the images, making it impossible for him to place an order from his screen-reading software. 

Come to think of it, shouldn’t we all have equal access to pizza? 

To make the internet a more equal space for everyone, many regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) use the Web

Accessibility Initiative’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a framework to ensure accessibility in every content. 

Implementing accessibility into your content also ensures you don’t run afoul of accessibility laws as it can result in huge fines.

Checklist for creating accessible videos

Four key elements make your videos accessible: Captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions.

Apart from a mandate to ensure accessibility for all people with sensory impairments, each of the above elements have an important role in making watching videos a memorable experience.

Video captions

Captions are text-based and time-synchronized alternatives to the voice-over, dialogues, and sound effects in a video. They are essential for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are two types of captions:

  • Closed captions – Represented on most video players as a CC, closed captions are a separate asset from the video and are usually added as a sidecar. STR file is the simplest sidecar format for a caption and it contains timing information with corresponding text data. The viewer can turn it on or off when needed and they are typically used for online videos. 
  • Open captions –  It gets burned directly into the video. However, it does not allow the user to toggle between on and off when needed. You can use it when a video player does not allow sidecar files. It is ideal for social media videos because they grab the viewer’s attention when they scroll through the content.

What are the benefits of captions in a video?

Imagine a hearing impaired individual watching a video without a caption. Tough one? Wait, here’s a video to help you experience it. 

 Imagine experiencing this every single day for every video? It is why captioning is crucial in a video. Captioning also helps people without any hearing impairments. They help when:

  • People are in noisy environments such as airports, gyms, and restaurants.
  • A speaker in the video has a strong accent that’s difficult to understand.
  • There is unfamiliar vocabulary in the video.

The benefits of video captioning go beyond this:

Points to consider when creating captions

  • Accurate: Make sure you provide captions that are error-free.
  • Readable: Captions should be shown long enough time for viewers to read and synchronize them with the audio. 
  • Consistent: Uniformity in style and presentation throughout the video is crucial for the viewer’s understanding.

Checkout how Hippo Video has incorporated open captions into its ‘Limitless’ podcast session on Instagram. 

Video transcripts

Like captions, video transcripts translate your video’s audio into text. They also describe relevant visual elements or information on-screen. 

It is created with the help of automatic speech recognition technology, human transcription, or a combination of two. 

An ideal video transcript is a perfect alternative to a video. 

There are two types of video transcripts:

  • Static transcript: They are more popular than interactive transcripts, and these are presented in plain text.
  • Interactive transcript: In an interactive transcript, you can highlight words as they are spoken in the video. It lets the user click on the text and jump straight to that portion in the video.

What are the benefits of transcripts in a video?

Transcripts help those who are unable to watch or hear your videos. The other benefits include:

  • They are of great help to non-native English speakers and viewers who are in a sound-prohibitive environment to brush up on the video’s content or skim it for relevant information.
  • Include a transcript to boosts SEO. It makes your videos searchable because the content in text form is better indexed by search engines. 
  • Finally, a person using assistive technology such as a screen reader can access a transcript in less time. 

How to add an interactive video transcript

To add an interactive video transcript, here’s what you need to do:


  1. On the right-hand corner of your YouTube video, select the ellipsis “more” icon(…)
  2. Select the “Open transcript” option. A transcript will pop-up. 

Tips to consider while adding transcript:

  • Identify the name of the speaker(s).
  • Ensure to include all speech content in the transcript.
  • Grammar and punctuations are critical to providing maximum clarity.
  • Include non-speech sounds in your transcripts.
  • Transcribe content as close to verbatim as possible.

Audio description for video 

In an audio description, an audio track is added to narrate the relevant visual information for the blind and low vision viewers.

It is a great element for accessible videos and it’s used to describe important information or actions happening on-screen that are essential to understanding the plot of the video, but were not clearly described or apparent in the original audio track. 

There are two ways to implement an audio description:

  • Built into the video – When there are long pauses in the dialogue or voice-over, you can choose to burn the audio description right into the video, or you can add it as a secondary audio track.
  • Make an alternative video – If your audio description doesn’t mesh with your video’s structure, make an alternative video. Here’s an example from Lion King.

Clip from Lion King without and with audio description

send video in outlook

What are the benefits of audio description?

Now we know that audio description is beneficial to the visually impaired, and helps everyone to have a similar experience while watching your videos. It is also helpful when viewers want to choose your video as audio-only or a podcast-style while they’re driving.  

Here are few pointers to consider when adding an audio description:

  • Adequately describe the visual information.
  • Make sure it doesn’t affect other speech or important sounds in the video.
  • Be concise but sufficiently explanatory.

Apart from captions, video transcripts, and audio descriptions, it is essential to have an accessible video player. Let’s learn more about it.

Why do video players need to be accessible?

To make your videos functional for everyone, it is necessary to have a video player that is accessible. 

This is because while some people use a mouse, others use a keyword, or a screen reader to navigate through a video. 

Here are some checkpoints to consider before choosing a good video player to play your videos:

  • Be screen reader and keyboard accessible.
  • Doesn’t automatically start to play the video.
  • Use proper color contrast in video player controls for greater visibility.
  • Provides options to playback and control volume levels.
  • Supports closed captions.
  • Supports audio description in a way it enables users to toggle the narration between ON and OFF.

How to test if your video player is accessible?

To check if your video player is accessible, here is a simple test you could use. Begin by unplugging your mouse and try to access the player elements using only your keyboard.

  • Press enter or spacebar to activate the play and pause button.
  • Press the UP and DOWN arrow buttons to control the volume levels.
  • Click the LEFT and Right buttons to control the rewind/fast forward function.

What are the benefits of an accessible video player?

An accessible video player benefits people who are using assistive technology to view videos. 

The video below will demonstrate why an accessible video player is necessary for visually impaired people and how they can use it in their daily lives.

Video accessibility improves your SEO 

It is true videos are a preferred medium for internet users as they are digestible and engaging. However, search engines can’t watch or view your video to rank it.

The good part is that they can understand texts. When you include caption files, transcripts, ALT text etc, search engines can crawl the text to find relevant keywords that match the user’s search queries, thus improving your SEO.

Now that we know the importance of making accessible videos and how negligence can bring legal implications to your business, let’s dive straight into how to make your videos accessible. 

Click here for the tips to increase your video SEO ranking

How to make YouTube videos accessible?

With over 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, YouTube is a treasure trove of incredible videos.

According to Forbes, more than 500 million hours of video are watched on YouTube each day, and the number of video content uploaded every 30 days is much higher than major US television networks have created in 30 years!

It makes it crucial to have all your YouTube videos accessible to all people for a better reach and better experience for those viewing them. 

We’ll take you through the steps involved:

Step 1: After uploading your video on YouTube, go to the “Public page” where everyone can see the video). Click “Edit Video”.

Step 2: Now, click on “other features” that you will see once you click on the “Edit video” option.

Step 3: You will now see a new subtab open up. Select “Translation & transcription”.

Step 4: A new tab will appear. Click on the “English (Automatic)” link. This will help you take advantage of YouTube’s automatic transcription.

Step 5: Next, click on the “Edit” button.

Step 6: Next step is, you need to edit the existing subtitles in order to accurately translate in sync with the video. To edit the existing subtitles, just click the highlighted text box.

Step 7: Once you complete the edits, click on the “Publish edits” button.

After this, embed your YouTube video in various other platforms by going to the newly published public YouTube video and click “Share”. 

Step 9: You can click on the ‘Embed’ button to get an embed code, which you can copy into your desired platform. 

And voila! Your YouTube video is now accessible with the closed caption. 

Hippo Video stands for video accessibility

Video accessibility is crucial to the success of your videos, and Hippo Video helps make the process easier for you. Our video accessibility features let you:

  • Pause, stop, and adjust the volume of your videos.
  • Control autoplay of your videos.
  • Choose custom video player colors to provide contrast, making it easier to differentiate between tabs.
  • Create captions for your videos with just a click of a button.
Customize Your Video Player and Increase Brand Recall – Learn more


Making videos more accessible is no longer considered a value add, and you should not feel lucky when you come across video content that has captions or has transcripts.

While accessibility is becoming more standard as laws are beginning to catch up with the internet, make sure that every video you create is accessible to anyone who decides to stop by.


With the right steps and careful consideration, you can create accessible video content that might change someone’s life. 

And yes, Google will reward you with a high-ranking SEO. 

Have you considered video accessibility before? If you have, what are the steps you’ve taken so far? Do let us know in the comments.