YouTube Accessibility: How to Make Accessible Videos with Closed Captions
You want to know how to make videos on your website accessible and accessible videos you shall have. Let’s begin.
First, it’s a not horrible idea to host your videos on YouTube.
YouTube (a Google company) has built-in (free) subtitles that provide a really good foundation for you to make edits from.
So good that 85% of your transcription work is already done for you.
Right away, this saves you time and dollar bills so take advantage of some of the best automatic transcription software around (among completely free options).
Second, after you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube, go to its public page (the one where everyone can see the video) while logged into your company account. Click “Edit Video”.
Next, click “Other features” link inside the freshly opened edit dashboard.
A new subtab will open up and you’ll to select “Translation & transcription”.
Now you’ll want to click the “English (Automatic)” link. Don’t click the “Add new subtitles or CC” button unless you really don’t want to take advantage of YouTube’s automatic transcription.
Next, click the “edit” button.
And now we’re going to edit the existing subtitles so that they:
- are accurate
- in sync with the video
- include closed captioning.
Closed captioning is essentially subtitles (dialogue) combined with all other meaningful sounds in the video (e.g. laughter, door slamming).
Once you’ve made all of your edits, click the publish edits button.
After you click publish, go to the newly published public YouTube video page, click “share”.
Then select the “Embed” button.
And now grab updated embed code and copy and paste it into notepad (or directly into your website so that the newly updated video can be embedded into your website.
Finally, although not technically required by a strict reading of WCAG, it’s best practice to create a text transcript of the video and include this transcript directly below the video on your website.
And great news — You can actually generate an automatic, 60–80% completed (depending on how much additional information is needed) text transcript using your closed captioning edits.
A transcript contains video dialogue along with any other pertinent information of what is happening in the video. Important information may include:
- Name and title of person
- Name of things (buildings, products, etc.)
- What is happening in the video
- The settings of the video
Every last detail of the video is not necessary but with a transcript you do want to make sure to describe the meaning and essence of the content in the video.
Also, transcript information should be in the same basic chronological order as the video (e.g. you don’t describe the ending of the video to begin the transcript).
Beyond closed captioning and a transcript, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) AA require website owners to include an alternate version of the video with an audio description.
An audio description version contains the video with narration of non-audible things that are going on inside the video.
Visit the WCAG success criterion 1.2.3 page for more information on audio descriptions.
Video Transcripts vs. Web Design
When adding transcripts beneath your videos, the length of the transcript will push the rest of your content/layout down.
The best option is to include a descriptive text link for the transcript directly beneath the video. This text link should have an anchor text such as:
Transcript of XYZ video
Once the link is clicked, the full transcript will show in a collapsible box.
Accessibility on YouTube
Within the YouTube platform, I recommend adding a link to where your full text transcript can be found (YouTube descriptions are limited in length).
Subtitles vs. Closed Captions
Subtitles merely convey the dialogue inside a video and are not enough, alone, to make a video accessible. Closed captions convey the dialogue and all important sounds such as laughter and doors slamming.