How To Make Your Live-Stream Content Accessible

December 11, 2019 BY JACLYN LAZZARI
Updated: December 12, 2019

If your live-stream content isn’t accessible, it’s not reaching its full potential. So, how do you make live videos accessible?

Live online video, also known as live-stream content, is the new “it” thing. Those that are using live-stream content to reach more people with their content are on the right track, but accessibility can take their reach to the next level.

To ensure your live-stream content is accessible, you’ll need three things: live captions, live descriptions, and a good audio environment.



What Is Live-Stream Content?

Live-stream content refers to online streaming videos that are simultaneously recorded and broadcast in realtime. Think of a live news broadcast or a live sports broadcast.

Live-stream content can encompass a wide variety of platforms anywhere from social media video to video games to professional sports. Some platforms which support live-stream content are Facebook and YouTube.

Benefits of Live-Streaming

Thumbs up

Live-streaming is another way for brands and organizations to interact and engage with their audience. That could mean providing demos, live Q&A’s, and live broadcast events to external customers or hosting live trainings and meetings for internal employees.

From a marketing perspective, live-stream content can help to expand viewership and reach global audiences in a new and engaging way.

  • 82 percent of audiences prefer live video to social media posts.
  • 64 percent are more likely to buy a product online after viewing a live video.
  • 39 percent of executives call a vendor after watching a video.
  • 73 percent of B2B businesses that use live video report positive results to ROI.

Any way you slice it, live video is enriching and expanding how companies and organizations can interact with their audiences.

Accessible Live-Stream Content

Video accessibility for live-stream content is not very different from traditional video content (i.e., prerecorded videos).

Live videos need closed captions to be accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and require speakers to describe as they go for those who are blind and low vision. Finally, live-stream content needs a stable environment that has a strong network connection, little to no background noise, clear pronunciation, and more. A good audio environment will help ensure that live audio is transcribed accurately.

Live Captions

Live captions are essential for making live-stream videos accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. But, they also benefit everyone since many people are watching videos without sound these days.

microphone icon

You may know of closed captions, which are accommodation for deaf and hard of hearing viewers. Captions display audio tracks in text form directly on the screen of videos. They include all dialogue between speakers and non-speech elements like speaker IDs, sound effects, and musical elements.

Live captions are just like traditional closed captions, except they are only suitable for live videos, such as live-stream content. While traditional closed captions are added to recorded videos retroactively, live captions are added to live videos in realtime. Live captions can be created for live videos either by a human professional transcriptionist or with automatic speech recognition (ASR) software.

How do you caption your live-streamed content? That all depends on which streaming platform you’re using. For instance, Facebook Live allows live video creators to stream live captions to their live content. However, other platforms may have different capabilities.


 Learn the basics of how to create accessible live streams. ➡️ 


Describe as You Go

Audio description is an accommodation for blind and low vision viewers, and it describes the relevant visual information within a video. The myth is that live audio description is not possible at this time.

In the traditional sense, an audio description track cannot be added to live content. However, visual information can be verbally communicated in realtime by the speaker while the live-video is streaming.

Consider this scenario: A beauty brand is live-streaming a tutorial on YouTube Live showing how to apply a simple daytime makeup look. The person doing the tutorial should be descriptive about the products they’re using and how they’re using them. For instance, they may say something like, “I’m applying a dark brown eyeshadow to the outer crease of my eyelid.” This is much more descriptive than saying, “I’m applying this eyeshadow to my eyelid,” which provides no visual context.

How to Describe in Live Scenarios

Speech bubble icon

Audio description is used when the visual information being portrayed is essential to the understanding of the content. When describing in realtime, it’s essential to keep this in mind.

Describe any images, read any text on the screen, and describe what you are pointing or gesturing at instead of saying something like “this over here.”

With any visuals, you don’t need to describe every tiny detail, but communicating the main points is key.

If your audience is asking questions through a chat window, be sure to repeat the questions so that everyone can hear what’s being asked.

Good audio environment

Having a good audio environment will help create a more accessible live-streamed experience for viewers. This is especially true if live captions are automatically-generated rather than typed by a human transcriptionist.

More often than not, automatic captions have an accuracy rate as low as 50%. In live scenarios, caption accuracy can be tricky to acheive. Some state of the art ASR systems can achieve an accuracy rate as high as 90% but only if the following conditions are true:

  • Strong network connection
  • Good audio quality
  • Little to no background noise
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Clear speech and pronunciation
  • All above conditions remain constant

Whether you’re using a human to create live captions or automatic speech recognition, having a well-planned audio environment will help to improve live caption accuracy.

Looking to learn more about how to create accessible live-stream content? Check out our webinar, Toolkit for Live Captioning Online Videos.


Access the full report for The State of Automatic Speech Recognition.

3Play Media logo

Subscribe to the Blog Digest

Sign up to receive our blog digest and other information on this topic. You can unsubscribe anytime.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.