5 Retailers Who Are Doing Captioning Right
Updated: June 3, 2019
Retailers: you can hate them or you can love them, but don’t deny you don’t need them.
When you need movies, clothes, shoes, and groceries, retail is always there to help.
Retailers are entities “that sell goods through various distribution channels.”
Typically, when trying to think of retailers, one may think of traditional brick-and-mortars like Target or Wal-Mart. But the retail paradigm has shifted to include online vendors like Groupon, Amazon, and Wayfair.
Online retail stores have been game changers for modern business practices. With the advent of online retail, digital marketing has surfaced, bringing a new medium to communicate with consumers.
But while these new mediums for communication have created connections, they often pose challenges for individuals with disabilities.
The reality is that accessibility is often put on the back burner, isolating an important minority who also has the right to benefit from the content retailers put out.
As digital marketing continues to boost investment in video, audio, and other creative means of communication, we should constantly be asking, “how can we make our content equally accessible to all?”
Those who haven’t put it on the back burner
If you go through some of the major retail corporations’ video content, a common theme is that most of their content lacks captions. Even worse, when they do provide them, they are often inadequate, auto-generated captions.
Thankfully, there are a couple retailers who are doing captioning right.
Ensuring accessibility is a priority for the following companies. They have embodied accessibility as part of their core mission.
As a “customer-centric” company, Amazon prides itself in making their products and services available for all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. At Amazon’s massive emporium of diverse products, they are never shy to question how a product or service can be made more accessible.
In 2015, Amazon struck a deal with the National Association of the Deaf to caption Amazon’s media library of over 190,000 TV shows and films. Currently, 100% of Prime videos are captioned, and they’ve incorporated a captioning workflow for any popular videos they receive without captions.
On June 9th, Amazon also launched audio description for over 100 movies and 10 Amazon original series.
Amazon plans to continue expanding their captioning and audio description efforts, setting an example for all media retailers.
As a technological powerhouse, Apple is truly setting an example for retailers to never put accessibility on the back burner. Through its products, ads, and media offerings, Apple embodies their belief that “technology should be accessible to everyone.”
All products include built-in accessibility features. In terms of captioning, the videos they put out on their YouTube channel also include captions…and not the auto-generated ones. They actually make an effort to upload accurate captions. *snaps*
As Apple lays it down, “We don’t design products for some people or even most people. We design them for every single person.”
There once was a time when Netflix asked Blockbuster if Blockbuster wanted to buy them. Blockbuster said no because they never thought the concept of an online DVD retail company would ever become popular.
Boy, were they wrong.
Netflix began as a retail company, and in the past years, it has grown to become a content creation genius. With thousands of movies, TV shows, and documentaries at consumers fingertips, it’s no surprise cable companies are panicking a little.
On June 2011, the NAD filed a suit against Netflix for failing to provide closed captions. The case traveled up to court, and the final ruling stated Netflix was considered a “place of public accommodation” and therefore had to make their services accessible to people with disabilities.
After the lawsuit, Netflix never looked back and began captioning their titles.
Today, Netflix has strict standards for subtitles and closed captions. This means, of course, no auto-generated craptions.
Beyond emboding beauty confidence, Dove is a retail company that equally embodies accessibility. Whether it’s a YouTube video, or an Instagram clip, Dove captions their content, and they caption it well.
But like other great retail examples, they don’t just stop at captioning.
Unilever, Dove’s parent company, has dedicated a web page outlining their commitment to accessibility. All Unilever web pages, including Dove’s, are compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 standard. This page can be directly accessed through Dove’s homepage.
Under their Audio and Video Content requirements, they state that “wherever feasible we provide text-based alternatives, including captions and transcripts.”
T-Mobile uses video as part of their internal company communications. They caption 100% of their video content because often employees don’t have access to computers with speakers.
T-Mobile’s motivation to caption comes from their commitment to a better user experience. As Ali Daniali, Manager of Enterprise Microsoft Systems and Unified Communications at T-Mobile says, “I’ve seen some of the numbers, and it’s not that expensive, honestly. It’s a benefit that gives a consistent user experience.”
Why retailers should care about accessibility
In terms of web accessibility lawsuits, retailers have been hit the most with violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Title III applies to places of public accommodation such as hotels, restaurants, museums, train stations, and movie theaters. Title III can even affect private entities like private universities and private companies. The Title states that individuals with disabilities are entitled to full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, or accommodations at any place of public accommodation.
Captioning has come a long way, but there is still a lot of work left. It shouldn’t be enough to caption just what is mandated, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook videos should also include captions. It just makes sense for our interconnected digital space to be equally accessible to all.
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