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Adding Captions to Youtube Videos

Oct 24, 2011 • general

Adding Captions to Youtube VideosIn Buying Power of Persons with Disabilities, Karl Grove carefully analyzes statistics about the number of users who need your site to be accessible. Despite noting that some of the statistics could be overinflated, he still advocates for accessibility:

In some cases, persons with disabilities which require an accessible site can amount to 7-10% of your potential visitors. Can you afford to lose 7-10% of your website's visitors? Or, put another way, would you like to gain an additional 7-10% more users? Make an accessible web experience and publicize it well and you may capture some of them and see some direct ROI from accessibility.

Today I was uploading some instructional videos that our audiovisual crew put together. Were it not for the constant reminders that people from Accessibility SIG relay to me, I probably wouldn't have done anything to make the videos more accessible. But it turns out that making videos accessible on Youtube for hearing-disabled people is quite easy, since in most cases, corporate-produced videos already have transcripts.

Youtube makes it really easy to sync the transcript with voice. When you upload the transcript in the video's settings, Google's voice recognition software automatically matches up the words with the video timeline, syncing the two. It's so easy that neglecting to upload the transcript for a Youtube video (if you have it) is downright lazy.

Here's an example of that captioning. Click the CC button in the video bar.

In my particular case, I don't know how many disabled users will need the captioning, but given our worldwide audience, the captions may ease the fact that the videos aren't yet translated into 10 other languages. People who don't speak English might be able to read English, or through a mix of the two (reading and listening) might get a better understanding of what's going on. That alone is a case for making the videos more accessible.

I know there's more to video accessibility than just adding captions, but captions are a great start -- and so easy.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in , API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.