Building Accessibility into the Budget
Updated: May 1, 2020
Looking to build accessibility into your budget? Look no further! Whether you’re a decision maker or an advocate of accessibility, we’re here to give you the tools you need to find the most efficient and cost-effective method to build an accessibility budget.
We know you care about accessibility. That’s why you’re here! We know that you understand the many benefits of accessible media including increased SEO, improved user engagement, and enhanced comprehension. Most importantly, we know that you know accessibility benefits the millions of people globally who live with a disability.
We also recognize the challenges of allocating the necessary resources for an accessibility budget. For some organizations, money is tight. For others, getting buy-in from higher-ups can be difficult. No matter what your organization’s current challenges are, the following tips will ensure you’re well equipped with the right tools to build accessibility into your budget.
How to Get Buy-In for Accessibility
In the 2019 State of Captioning report, 36% of respondents said that cost/budget was a barrier to captioning video content.
Although there are many advocates for accessibility in organizations, they may not always be the decision makers. Sometimes, these advocates have to truly show the value of accessibility and that an accessibility budget is worth the money.
The first step to getting buy-in for accessibility is to spread awareness. Not everyone is familiar with the importance of accessibility so be sure to educate your organization. You can do this by hosting a workshop, planning a lunch and learn, or sharing a video or blog post.
Another great way to help them see why accessibility is important for viewers, is by having them watch an inaccessible video. Have them tune into their favorite TV show without sound or captions to demonstrate how a deaf person may feel when trying to watch a program. Let them watch a movie without audio description and have them close their eyes. They’ll experience how hard it is to understand the visual cues without sight, like many blind viewers.
When your colleagues participate in these activities, it will give them first-hand experience as to what it’s like watching or listening to inaccessible media. Not only is this method educational, but they’ll be able to empathize with individuals with disabilities.
Show Why it’s Worth the Money
In order for the decision makers to get on board, it’s essential to show them the return on investment.
You can do this by creating a detailed presentation with the following accessibility benefits:
- Helpful for engagement: according to the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, captions improve brand recall, verbal memory, and behavior intent.
- Improves comprehension: 41% of videos are incomprehensible without sound or captions.
- Legal compliance: many brands and institutions including Netflix, FedEx, and Harvard have been sued for inaccessible videos. Accessibility saves your organization from a potential lawsuit.
- Boosts SEO: PLYmedia found a 40% increase in views for captioned videos.
- Improved brand value: not only does accessibility reach untapped markets of potential customers, but it promotes inclusion and ensures everyone can consume your content.
Petition a Pilot Program
It’s understandable if you’re not ready to take that leap of faith yet. You can certainly always test the waters before you decide to jump in.
Consider setting a small budget for your organization to caption a few videos. Choose some metrics you want to track. A few examples can be:
- Video views
- Search engine ranks
- Website visits
Give your video some time to see how it’s performing now that it’s captioned. You can measure the impact to show the difference between the uncaptioned video and captioned video. This is a sure and easy way to show how captions bring value to your organization.
Raise Money for an Accessibility Budget with Grants and Funding
One issue that many organizations face is how to raise funds in order to make their content accessible. While some places are able to budget adequately for captioning and audio description, that’s not always the case for everyone. Some places may need to look for outside sources to help finance their accessibility efforts.
Below are some resources that can be applied to funding accessibility. While some awards are specifically used for higher learning institutions, there are other creative ways to find funding.
Apply for Grants
Institutions can apply to several federally funded grants through the U.S. Department of Education. You can visit the Federal Register for more information on captioning grants and applications.
The Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program provides millions of dollars in grants and awards to support research and development of universal design technologies. It also supports media-related activities, such as audio description and captioning for classroom use. The funding amount is $2.5 million dollars, to be used over the course of 5 years.
Additionally, other grants like the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) help California community colleges finance captioning efforts. The DECT actually allows you to receive reimbursements for captioning with 3Play Media by following the steps below.
- Complete the Application and Agreement form and a vendor quote. DECT will indicate whether or not your request has been granted by providing you with a project number.
- Complete captioning and transcription with 3Play.
- Once you have paid for the captioning services, email the Request for Reimbursement-Payment Form to DECT along with a copy of the invoice, a copy of the Purchase Order and/or contract, and a copy of the Applicant District’s payment check.
- At the end of the semester, fill out an End of Term Report so DECT can track the outcome of the funding.
Note that the DECT grant does not apply to community education services or continuing education courses. It only covers apportionment generating classes-credit, non-credit, but not no-credit.
Create an Accessibility Grant at Your Institution
Another great way to raise money for your accessibility budget is to create a grant from student fees. Captions benefit all students, so why not include it in the tuition fees?
North Carolina State University created an Education Technology Fund (EFT) that was included in every student’s tuition fee. They were able to acquire $60,000 for captioning! They’ve been able to use the fund for students who request captions, as well as proactively caption content students will most likely request in the future.
Find Funds Through Other Budgets
Schools can also find line items in other budgets that can be used for captioning. Some institutions have an educational technologies or educational supplies budget. The good thing about captioning is that it’s both a product and a service, so departments who require captioning will already have funds set aside for captioning.
Also, if you find that your department has leftover funds at the end of the fiscal year, you can use it for captioning. Some vendors, like 3Play, allow customers to have pre-paid funds in their accounts for captioning needs. You can use the funds, like credit, to add to your captioning account and pre-pay for next year’s captioning needs.
If your organization provides captions as an accommodation for employees who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, you may qualify for federal tax credits. Tax credits include Disabled Access Credit, Barrier Tax Deduction, and Work Opportunity Tax Credit. You can find more specific information on the IRS website on how to qualify for these credits.
You may not be an institution of higher learning so you won’t be eligible for certain grants. You may not be eligible for tax credits either. No worries! There are other ways to receive funding. With several crowdfunding platforms available, people have successfully raised money for cool business ideas. Why not try it for captioning? Crowdfunding to raise money for captioning is a good cause. You’ll be spreading awareness on the importance of accessibility as well as the financial limitations of meeting these needs.
Lastly, many broadcast organizations have successfully raised funds through private institutions, corporations, and individuals. Considering reaching out to these sources for your online video captions as well.
Make the Most of Your Accessibility Budget
Now that you have buy-in from everyone at your organization and found funding, it’s time to make the most of your budget. If you want to maximize the amount of content you can make accessible, here are some tips you can use to make the most of your accessibility budget.
- Don’t cut corners on captioning quality: think long-term. Low costs may sound ideal now, but you may be sacrificing quality and accuracy. It will lead to more work down the road, which means more money spent fixing pointless errors. Find a solution that is both cost-effective and will be the most scalable option.
- Plan ahead: you can save money by planning for the future. If you know you have a lot of content to be captioned, some vendors offer bulk discounts. 3Play offers bulk discounts and discounted extended turnaround options for files you don’t need right away. You can caption files well in advance without having to worry.
Utilizing Technology to Bring Down Costs
Costs can vary depending on the vendor, but the best solution is one that uses a mix of ASR and humans. 3Play’s 3-step process ensures 99% accuracy, even in cases of poor audio quality, difficult content, or multiple speakers.
Once your video has been submitted into our robust account system, it will go through automatic speech recognition to produce a rough transcript. A certified transcriptionist will clean up the file and finally, a quality assurance manager will conduct a final review.
No matter what vendor you choose, always consider quality. The best solution will ensure you don’t have to resubmit or edit any files. This will ultimately save you money. The best way to gauge if a company’s captioning process is the most cost-effective is by researching their transcription process and reading customer reviews. That way, you know you’re getting the best value for your money.
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