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Accessible Video for UK Public Sector Websites

What The Public Sector Needs to Know

In the United Kingdom, recent changes in website and video accessibility legislation have had an impact on the websites of public sector institutions. By September 2020, all existing and new public sector websites must meet new accessibility standards and publish an accessibility statement, as outlined in the guidelines published by the Government Digital Service. These new accessibility standards include making video accessible, with captioning and other important video accessibility features.

While September 2020 may seem to be a long way away, it’s important to think about making changes well beforehand, as website accessibility can be a long and difficult process, especially for institutions that haven’t had the opportunity to learn about website accessibility before. If you’re getting ready to learn more about how to implement video accessibility changes, AST can help you. We know how difficult it can be to begin making accessibility changes, so we wanted make it easy to get back into the video accessibility groove, even if you’ve had an extended vacation from video accessibility issues. We’ve reviewed the guidelines provided by the UK government, and compiled some of the most important video accessibility points in this article for you.

How to Get Started With Making Video Accessible

Here are some of the best ways to get started on making video accessible in your website:

  1. Start an accessibility conversation with your website’s stakeholders. One of the best things you can do to get started with making video accessible is to start a conversation about video accessibility with your colleagues. Often times, starting a conversation can create a great nudge in the right direction, especially when budget and planning is a concern. On a big picture level, you can make captioned video the default, rather than an afterthought.
  2.  Make a list of what content to prioritize and organize it. If you’re getting started with video accessibility, you may have a large backlog of content that is not fully accessible. For this reason, you’ll need to prioritize content for captioning and audio description. Think of these factors as a starting point:
    • What type of videos do you have, and what is the subject matter and complexity of these videos?
    • What is the video audience?
    • How often are these videos being seen?
    • Are these videos for the general public or for a smaller subset of people?
    • Do your viewers have different access needs?
  3. Evaluate your current video player. While captioning and audio description are important factors in creating accessible video, having an accessible video player is also essential to complying with accessibility standards. If budget is a concern, there are also many accessible video players available at no additional cost to institutions online. Consider your video player’s features and make sure that if has accessibility tools such as captioning and audio description display, keyboard accessible playback controls, and an interactive transcript. These features ensure that deaf and hard of hearing, and blind and low vision users will have access to video material. Check out the CaptionSync Smart Player, which has various innovative accessibility features.
  4. Consider reaching out a video accessibility vendor. If you are a video producer or an instructional designer who works with video, you may have tried captioning videos yourself. There are a variety of tools out there for creating closed captions, ranging from free online tools to $5,000 software packages. However, if you have hours of video content, you may find it much more efficient to use a captioning vendor for all your transcription, captioning, audio description and subtitle needs. Automating the captioning process can make handling a large amount of video material more manageable. Here’s a basic graphic that details the basic steps involved in captioning through a professional video accessibility vendor like AST:captioning process workflowOn a basic level, users will need to submit their media to the captioning vendor, the media is then professionally transcribed, the caption file is created, and the captions are delivered to the user by email, online download, or directly to the video by integration.
  5. Create an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan (EEAAP). If you’re having trouble providing access due to budget issues or other reasons, consider creating an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan (EEAAP). An EEAAP is a game-plan for institutions to provide alternate modes of access for otherwise inaccessible media. To create an EEAAP, you’ll need information about the accessibility issue, the group or person affected by the issue, the timeline for addressing the issue, and a game-plan for how you’ll address the issue. For example, in cases where a live video was streamed online, you may consider adding captioning after a video has been streamed to provide access. Ideally, you would have real-time captioning for the given video, but if for some reason it was not provided, you will want to provide access by captioning the video afterwards. Note that an EEAAP is a transitional plan that should eventually help lead to better accessibility practices in the future.

Final Thoughts

It goes without saying that one of the most important parts of making video accessible for public sector websites is beginning with a plan. We know it can be tough getting started with video accessibility, especially when complying with the law is a factor. At AST, it is our goal as a company to help others reach their accessibility goals everyday, and we’re happy to help you get started with your plan. Please feel free to reach out to us for help with the 2020 video accessibility guidelines or any other video accessibility needs.

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