2019 Trends in Video Accessibility

June 20, 2019 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: June 16, 2021

78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day. With video on the rise, it’s no wonder that captioning trends are changing as well. Every year, we at 3Play Media conduct a survey on the state of captioning. Our 2019 survey was completed by over 1,000 respondents from multiple industries like higher education, corporate, media & entertainment, government, and religious organizations. After the survey is complete, we produce and distribute a report based on our findings on topics such as current trends, captioning behaviors, automatic captions, policies, and more.

In the webinar, 2019 Trends in Video Accessibility, we reviewed some of our findings in areas such as overall captioning trends, social media accessibility, and educational video accessibility. This blog post gives an overview of those findings discussed in the webinar.

Video Accessibility Trends

video camera

In the presentation, we shared a number of statistics about video trends more generally, as well as statistics on the number of individuals who have some sort of sensory disability. The first statistic here is quite astounding – there has been more video content uploaded to the web in one month than TV has created in three decades. (To put that in perspective, that’s more online video in 30 days than TV has created in 30 years!)

It’s estimated that by 2022, online video will account for more than 82% of internet traffic, which is 15 times higher than it was in 2017.

Clearly, video is a critical component of our day-to-day lives, of our communication, and of our society. For this reason, it’s really important that as video grows, we think more and more about accessibility. How can we comply with accessibility laws, and how can we make this great amount of content accessible to everyone – including people with disabilities?


Accessibility should really be the concern of every single organization and creator for several reasons. Obviously, at 3Play Media, we believe it’s the right thing to do. If you’re more of a numbers person, here are some more stats:

  • 71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it’s not accessible.
  • There are 48 million Americans – roughly 20% of the population – who are either deaf or hard of hearing to some extent.
  • There are 24 million Americans – roughly 10% of the population – who are blind or low vision. So this 71% of people who will leave your website immediately actually is a very large population.

You don’t need to be a mathematician to understand the significant impact inaccessible video can have on your viewership and engagement. As a content creator, it’s important to understand just how many people are impacted when you’re content isn’t accessible. In turn, your content is impacted as well. If you’re not making your content accessible, you’re missing out on a huge part of the population who can’t consume your work. Simply put, inaccessible content is not reaching its full potential.

Captioning Findings

One of the main ways to make your video accessible is by adding closed captions. We found a number of interesting results in the 2019 State of Captioning, which we shared in our presentation. 63% of respondents reported publishing or producing up to 100 hours of video per year. 58% of respondents said that they captioned most or all of their videos. We were happy to see that many organizations are prioritizing captioning, but we wanted to better understand the trends when it came to two specific areas – social media and education!

78% of survey respondents indicated captioning their video content to make them more accessible

Social Media Video Accessibility

The state of captioning survey results indicated that when it came to social media, captioning was most prevalent on YouTube and Facebook.

70% of respondents said that they are publishing their captioned video on YouTube. This response was most popular for the industries of higher education, people who are content creators, and private companies that are producing educational content. 26% are publishing their captioned video on Facebook, which was most popular for those in the faith industry, content creators, and those in higher education.

We wanted to further understand why people are (or are not) captioning their social video. We were thrilled to learn that 78% of survey respondents indicated captioning their video content to make them more accessible.

In the webinar, we pointed to a very common scenario for those of you on social media – scrolling through your Facebook news feed with videos automatically playing without sounds. What a pain! Imagine you’re on public transportation, or somewhere else where you can’t turn up the volume (or you’re deaf,) and think about how frustrating this might be. As a viewer in this scenario, you’re likely going to scroll right past. The statistics actually prove this to be true. Facebook did a study that found that captions increase view time on Facebook videos by 12%.

According to Facebook, 41% of videos are incomprehensible without sound or captions.

The simplest way to avoid this issue is to caption your videos accurately. And, yes, the keyword there is accurately because captions that are inaccurate often make things even more confusing for viewers.

Click to learn more about automatic captions in the full webinar.

Video Accessibility in Education

stack of books

In addition to social media, another area of particular interest from our state of captioning survey is education.

80% of people who use captions aren’t deaf or hard of hearing. That’s because captions benefit everyone by improving dialogue, offering clarification of terminology, helping with improved concentration and increased engagement. And this makes them especially useful in an educational setting. We’ve seen this proven in several reports.

In a report conducted in collaboration with Oregon State University on student uses and perceptions of captions and transcripts, we learned that 98.6% of students find captions helpful. In fact, 71% of students without hearing difficulties use captions at least some of the time. Why is that? 75% of students use captains as a learning aid. They said they help with comprehension, accuracy, engagement, and retention of the material in the video.

Additional reasons for using captions as a learning aid include when there’s poor audio or video quality, when instructors have heavy accents, or when students are in sound-sensitive environments such as studying in a quiet study hall or in a library. The number one most common reason students use captions, however, is to help them focus.

Of course, despite the proven benefits of captions, there are barriers. The state of captioning report noted that the cost of captions and lack of budget is the greatest barrier to captioning in higher ed, K-12, and educational content creators. This has not changed in the last several years.

But, even with a lack of budget, there are a number of ways you can increase accessibility within your organization or university – whether you’re starting from zero or fifty. Below we explain several steps for getting started.

I’m Ready, Now What?

If you’re ready to take the next step to accessibility, there are a number of things you can do to get started. Below we provide you with a list of a few actionable items to get you heading in the right direction:

  1. Centralize captioning at your organization rather than having it siloed across different departments. Begin by spreading awareness on the importance of accessibility. This is a great first step in this process.
  2. Try putting together an accessibility team at your organization. Having a team to advocate for accessibility is key. Begin by talking to your colleagues and learning who else really cares about accessibility. Those are great people to have on the committee!
  3. Establish policy and procedure at your organization to give those at your organization a kind of a clear line of direction when it comes to captioning and accessibility.
  4. Advocate for accessibility and learn as much as you can. One great way to do this is by attending accessibility workshops, training, or seminars. You can even get started today by signing up for ACCESS, below!

Take the first step to accessibility by registering to attend ACCESS today!

Register or learn more about ACCESS by 3Play Media

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