Follow These Steps to Get Buy-In for Video Accessibility

June 5, 2019 BY JACLYN LEDUC

Accessibility advocates know that gaining buy-in video accessibility can be difficult. Across industries, cost and budget are the top barriers to accessible practices such as captioning. So, how do you show the value of accessibility and convince decision makers at your organization that it’s worth the investment?

In this blog: What is accessibility?, Benefits of captioning and audio description, and actionable items for accessibility buy-in.

Of course, one argument for implementing video accessibility at your organization is that it may be a legal requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), or other accessibility laws. However, even if your organization is not legally obligated to comply with accessibility requirements, there are an abundance of other reasons to produce and share accessible video content.

Another convincing reason for organizations to practice accessibility is that it creates market opportunity. In this article, you’ll learn about the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities across the world that rely on accessible content. Even people without disabilities can benefit from captioned or described video content.

There are many more arguments in favor of video accessibility which you can use to campaign for support at your organization. In this article, we’ll tell you the facts about accessibility and the benefits so that you can spread awareness to your counterparts and higher-ups. We’ll also equip you with a plan of action to get accessibility in motion at your organization.

Know the Facts

Being prepared and informed is a critical part of being an accessibility advocate – you must understand the facts behind accessibility to properly convey its importance to your peers and to the decision makers at your organization. There’s much to know about accessibility, in terms of what it is, how it helps people, and why it’s worth the investment.

For starters, here’s what you should know:

The Definition of Accessibility

Accessibility, in general, is the concept that all experiences, information, and communication should be accessible to all people, regardless of any disability. For something to be accessible, it must offer an equivalent experience to everyone to prevent any kind of exclusion. While accessibility can refer to physical locations, such as buildings or events, it also applies to electronic information such as websites, streaming video platforms, and much more. In this article, we’re specifically discussing video accessibility and the features that make videos accessible such as closed captions and audio description.

Who Benefits from Video Accessibility?

Accessibility matters because it makes the world more navigable for people with disabilities. Globally, there are 360 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing that are unable to watch videos without accurate captions, and there are 245 million people who are blind or low vision that may rely on audio description to access videos. By providing closed captions and audio description with videos, you can be sure that your videos are accessible to this audience of people.

Accessible videos even benefit people in your own workplace. One study reported that 30 percent of working professionals have a disability, and of those workers with disabilities, 62 percent have “invisible” disabilities, which one cannot immediately identify upon seeing a person.

Planning for accessibility can also pay off when it comes to getting traffic to your organization’s website. A 2017 study by Section508.gov reported that 71 percent of people with disabilities leave a site immediately if the content is not accessible. What’s 71 percent of over 600 million people? We’d say it’s significant enough to make accessibility a priority. Otherwise, your organization may be missing out on reaching more people.

Campaign for Captioning

Closed captions are a text-based, time-synchronized alternative to audio, and they visually represent the audio that plays in a video by displaying words on the bottom of the screen. Accessibility advocates know that captioning videos is the right thing to do because it allows those who are deaf or hard of hearing to access video content. However, the reasons for captioning go beyond accessibility.

Captions, for example, improve the user experience for all viewers. A study by the University of Iowa found that people recall information better after seeing and hearing it. Because captions are a visual representation of audio, viewers can comprehend captioned video content better. Captions also allow viewers to follow along with videos regardless of any distractions. For instance, when the audio in a video isn’t perfect or when the viewing environment is noisy, captions ensure that viewers don’t miss any important information. The effects of captions on the user experience are especially helpful for educational and training content since it keeps viewers engaged and focused.

When campaigning for captioning, be sure to highlight captions’ ability to improve the user experience.

From a marketing perspective, captions are a great tool, too. They improve SEO, bring in more traffic to your website, and get more views for your content. Captions can even help strengthen your brand awareness and empower viewers to take action. A study by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science reported that captions improve brand recall and behavioral intent, both of which help to keep your brand at the top of consumers’ minds when they’re ready to make a purchase.

When campaigning for captioning, be sure to highlight captions’ ability to improve the user experience. By communicating the many benefits of captioning videos, you can gain video accessibility buy-in at your organization.

Advocate for Audio Description

Audio description is an audio track that narrates the relevant visual information in videos. Audio description’s primary purpose is to make videos more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, and just like captions, audio description has many benefits that can help everyone.

Audio description improves viewing flexibility by allowing viewers to watch videos in more situations and environments, even while driving. We know. That seems unsafe, and typically, it is. However, because audio description uses a voiceover (human or mechanized) to describe the visual aspect of videos, people can “watch” a video without having to actually look at the screen. In fact, people are turning their favorite video content into audiobooks using the audio description track. Thanks to audio description, drivers can consume videos without ever having to take their eyes off of the road. Audio description is newer to the scene than captioning, so who knows what other creative use cases people will find for it over time?

With audio description, your organization can provide a unique and memorable viewing experience.

Audio description is also helpful for educational and training content. As mentioned previously, people recall information better after seeing and hearing it. Therefore, it’s easier for viewers to retain the visual information within a video if they can both view and hear a description of it. For organizations that share educational videos or that use videos for training purposes, it’s essential that viewers internalize the message. In addition to adding captions to videos, providing audio description can further strengthen the power of your videos and help users to stay more engaged.

Showing that audio description is a valuable addition to your organization’s videos will help to establish buy-in. By offering this accessible feature, your organization can reach more people and provide a unique viewing experience that your audience will remember.

Take Action

In addition to demonstrating the return on investment of video accessibility, like boosted SEO and improved user experience and engagement, there are actions you can take to gain support for accessibility from others at your organization.

Spread Awareness

It sounds simple, but this step is important. If people don’t know about the many benefits of accessible video, whom accessibility helps, or even what accessibility is, then it’s going to be quite difficult to rally support and buy-in for accessible programs. An Oregon State University study showed that a lack of general awareness of accessibility was the number one reason why institutions are not captioning videos.

There are several things you can do to help spread accessibility knowledge in your organization.

  • Host meetings or “lunch n’ learns” about accessibility best practices.
  • Send out a monthly newsletter focused on accessibility information.
  • Invite colleagues to attend accessibility-focused events with you.

Establish a Pilot Program

If you’re having trouble getting video accessibility buy-in even after you’ve made efforts to raise awareness at your organization, consider organizing a pilot program. This is an excellent way to help introduce your organization to accessibility without having to jump all in right away. Here’s how to set one up:

  • Get approval for a small budget for services such as captioning or audio description.
  • Define a beginning and end date for the program.
  • Determine how you’ll measure the impact of accessibility, i.e., page visits, number of views, etc.
  • Choose the content on which you’d like to test the impact of accessibility.

The pilot program will reveal how accessibility affects your organization, and by the end of it, you will be able to present a strong case for buy-in. The goal of the pilot program is to showcase what accessibility can do for your organization as a whole and to gain video accessibility buy-in as a result.


Learn everything you need to know about captioning.

The Ultimate Guide to Captioning


What strategies have you used to gain accessibility buy-in at your organization? Tell us in the comments below.

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