Q&A: How Do Accessibility Laws Apply to You?

Updated: February 2, 2021

Accessibility laws don’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, once you break them down, they become infinitely easier to understand.

thumbs up and thumbs down

In the webinar, Navigating the Venn Diagram of Video Accessibility Laws, Lily Bond from 3Play Media breaks down all the accessibility laws in the US by industry.

Watch the webinar to learn more about how the laws apply to you. Below is a snippet from the QA portion covering captioning requirements, strategies to get buy-in for accessibility, and where to publish audio description.

Can you comply with one law and still be at risk for a lawsuit?

LILY BOND: Definitely. The Netflix case is a great example of this. If the laws that apply to you have different requirements, for example, the CVAA only covers a specific type of video content, and the Americans with Disabilities Act is much broader and, specifically, just covers places of public accommodation. You can comply with one and not be in enough compliance to avoid a lawsuit, which is exactly what happened with Netflix.

You always want to make sure that you’re shooting high with compliance. If you’re covered by multiple laws, you want to make sure that you’re shooting for the law that has the strictest compliance requirements.

Are you required to caption a live teleconference?

take the quiz: which accessibility laws apply to you?

LILY BOND: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance, which includes live captioning or transcription for live video.

If you are covered by Section 508, either because you are a federal program or because your state or organizational laws and policies require Section 508 compliance, then you should be captioning those programs. Also, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you are a place of public accommodation, and this teleconference is an example of an accommodation that you would make for the public, then you would need to caption that as well.

Knowing that audio description is required for prerecorded audio, are you seeing video players that provide the option to toggle audio description on and off, or does an alternative video generally need to be produced?

LILY BOND: A lot of people are becoming more worried about audio description since the Section 508 refresh because it is now referenced directly in the law.

There is a slight barrier here with technology because many players do not provide the option for a secondary audio track, which would allow you to turn audio description on and off. There are a few players that are very accessible. Able Player and Oz Player both allow for audio description tracks.

The only major video player that provides this functionality right now is Brightcove. Brightcove allows you to add a secondary audio track which you can turn on or off. Kaltura also allows you to add an audio description track. However, it’s a little bit more of a technical solution so you would need to make sure you have a developer on hand to help you with that.

At 3Play Media, we provide an audio description plug-in, which is a simple embed that references your video player and allows you to turn audio description on or off. So that’s another solution if you’re looking to choose a vendor for audio description.

Is captioning in a single language sufficient when the targeted audience doesn’t speak the same language?

legal scale

LILY BOND: In the US, the only requirements for captioning in a specific language are that the FCC requires captioning in English and in Spanish. So for both English and Spanish broadcasting. There are no legal requirements around translation and subtitling. But it is a best practice, and certainly, it helps to accommodate viewers who do not understand the language, to provide subtitles in other languages.

What strategies would you suggest when you’re met with the perception from a supervisor or upper administrator that we don’t need to address these issues until we get a complaint?

LILY BOND: I would say that sharing the scope of the legal space is very important. There are a number of resources that show how many types of organizations like yours are getting complaints, and that’s often an effective way to get people to buy into video accessibility so that they don’t end up in the same situation.

There are also a lot of resources on all of the different benefits of video accessibility. Sometimes it’s better to approach a buy-in from the standpoint of how it can help all of your viewers, all of your students, and really create more engagement and learning and comprehension.

Watch the full webinar below!


3play media logo in blue

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.