Accessibility 101: How to Make Video Presentations Accessible

Black man sits on couch recording professional video presentation at home

Ability Central is on a mission is to expand information and communication access. The Ability Central team often hosts gatherings that include participants who are Deaf, have sensory processing disabilities, are blind or visually impaired, or have difficulty speaking. Video presentations are a part of many workplaces, but it’s important to know which elements to emphasize and which to leave behind when presenting to an audience or team that includes people with disabilities.

Bearing this in mind helps all members of your team feel seen and have their needs met at work. This attention to detail helps to ensure the workplace culture includes disabled individuals in an equitable way.

Here is Ability Central’s 101 guide on how to make your video presentations accessible at work.

Ask People What They Need in Advance

When it comes to accessibility, two things ring true: plan for accessibility from the very beginning and always ask people what their access needs are. In all communication about the presentation, make it clear what accommodation is available and who to contact if someone needs to put in a request.

When you advertise the available accommodation, you create space for people to communicate their needs. By following through with the accommodation, equity and access for disabled individuals during the presentation are established. Taking a moment to explore people’s need in advance, and a moment before you begin the presentation to make sure everyone’s access needs are being met allows for a smooth transition into workplace topics.

Remember, accessibility is dynamic and ever-changing because of new technology and the needs of our bodies. You cannot assume someone’s needs, that two people with the same disability will require the same accommodation or that what works for one person this time will work for them the next.

Avoid Flashiness to Focus on the Video’s Content

For videos, aim to focus on informative elements of the presentation. Videos are meant to share and relate information, but the message can get confusing or lost altogether for someone with a disability. For someone with a sensory processing disability, loud unexpected noises such as applause may be overwhelming or startling. Flashing images or lights faster than 5 flashes per second can trigger a seizure in someone with epilepsy.

The video material should be clear and easy to identify. Having videos that are too flashy, too loud, or too busy can detract from the point of the message rather than enhance it.

Use Clear Contrast in Video Presentations

Consider the contrast between text and background colors when creating accessible videos. Use dark backgrounds with light fonts, or light fonts with dark backgrounds on the video, ensuring that any visible text is legible without too much busyness or movement in the background. Apply this to your infographics and captions as well, so each person present will be able to properly understand the content. On your video, ensure that the weight of the text is clear and visible (an easy way to do this is to make your text bold).

Caption your Video Content

Captioning your video content makes it accessible to the millions of Deaf and hard of hearing people, and people with auditory processing disabilities. This includes captions for spoken words, sound effects, and any other environmental sounds or cues. Creating clear captions on videos also allows people who are taking notes to revisit information or re-watch it without feeling lost or overstimulated by the pace of the information. Captioning your video presentations is not only for people with disabilities, as a 2019 Verizon and Pubilcis Media study shows that people are 80% more likely to watch the whole video if it is captioned, especially on social media platforms.

Use Clear Language and Visual Description Information

Visual description information provides context for people to better understand what is being shown in the video—this can be helpful for people who cannot see the video adequately. When making the video, coordinate what is being shown on the screen with the information needed to understand the visual aspects of the presentation out loud. Synchronizing the audio information with the video information makes the overall presentation much more accessible for visual and auditory processing differences. Be sure to provide visual descriptions for any visual elements like graphs, tables, images, or backgrounds so that the information is fully accessible.

Similarly, using clear, specific language keeps information easy to understand in all aspects of communication. Speaking clearly and purposefully in addition to adding clear captions helps listeners and readers follow along with video content smoothly.

When In Doubt—Ask About Accommodations

Accessibility varies from individual to individual. Accommodating an individual is not a cookie-cutter experience in the disability community—each person has their own set of needs. The best way you can welcome disabled people to your video content is by simply asking them what makes a positive impact in their experience.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. So, don’t be afraid to be curious and communicative about what your team needs to succeed.

Ability Central’s Portal offers access to information and resources based on disability interest, from speech disabilities to visual processing. Including accessibility options from square one creates truly inclusive video content for your business and team.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Autism Deaf Hearing Loss IDD Learning and Intellectual Low Vision Memory Vision