Why Inaccessible Video Could Cost Your Company Money (And How to Fix It)

February 21, 2019 BY SOFIA ENAMORADO
Updated: December 9, 2019

Video accessibility may not be at top-of-mind for companies that publish video online, but it can have a surprising business impact.

Here’s what you need to know about the potential costs of publishing inaccessible corporate videos — and, of course, how to make them accessible.

What Do We Mean By “Inaccessibile Video?”

Accessibility in this context refers to the degree to which a video can be operated and understood by a person with a disability.

Visual, hearing, cognitive, learning, behavioral, or physical disabilities can all affect how a person consumes video effectively.

The Costs of Inaccessible Video

If your company publishes video that lacks accessibility, you risk losing potential revenue, wasting employees’ time, and even suffering legal consequences.

Lost Revenue Opportunities

Public-facing marketing videos should be accessible so as not to exclude potential customers. This is true for both B2B and B2C businesses — you never know what disabilities a buying decision-maker might have.

How many people are you excluding?

For perspective consider these stats:

  • There are approximately 7,327,800 blind people over age 16 in the US (2.3% of that population).
  • Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.
  • An estimated 35,000-40,000 American adults are deaf-blind.
  • One in 12 men and one in 200 women are color blind.
  • 4% of American adults are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. In coming years, that number will likely climb to match childhood diagnosis rates of 5-13%.
  • Over 40 million American adults have Dyslexia — but only 2 million are diagnosed.

(This list is hardly exhaustive of all physical or cognitive disabilities that can affect a person’s ability to interact with your video. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.)

Beyond the immediate loss of revenue opportunity from customers with disabilities, you risk damaging your brand reputation.

A lack of accessibility in corporate marketing videos could be perceived as:

  • Inconvenient – since many features that make videos accessible to people with disabilities also improve the overall user experience
  • Inconsiderate – since an entire segment of the population is excluded from consuming your content
  • Unprofessional – since accessible design is a hallmark of innovative and inclusive companies

Those are not associations you want for your brand.

Employee Inefficiency

people around a circle
If your company uses video for internal communications, onboarding, or employee training, those videos should be fully accessible.

If a disabled employee makes an accommodation request for an uncaptioned video, for example, they’re sort of stuck in limbo until captions are ready. This stalls the training process, and could run up the bill for expedited captioning costs.

Often employees may not request an accommodation that would greatly benefit them. Without access to those accommodations, they may spend more time having to rewatch the video to fully absorb the information. Or they may be unable to decipher key details at all.

Why wouldn’t they request an accommodation?

There are many potential reasons for this:

  • Their disability is undiagnosed
  • They chose not to disclose their disability to their employer
  • They feel embarrassed or ashamed of their disability
  • They don’t want to impose any extra trouble or cost on the company
  • They aren’t aware of the accommodation options
  • They don’t know the process for requesting accommodations at your company

NAD v. FedEx Ground: Accessibility Lawsuit

FedEx truck
American companies are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees or prospective employees.

When that doesn’t happen, there can be serious repercussions.

Read about the FedEx Ground accessibility lawsuit >>

For any of these reasons and more, your employees may not seek accommodations for company training videos.

The result?

Video content is more time-consuming and less effective.

Legal Damages

An undeniable cost of inaccessibility is the potential for a disability discrimination lawsuit.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of employees and job applicants from being excluded on the basis of disability.

Inaccessible corporate content related to recruiting, applying, interviewing, onboarding, assessments, essential job functions, trainings, or communication could be grounds for an ADA lawsuit.

Private companies have been the target of such lawsuits, like FedEx Ground, which is still fighting a costly two-year-long battle with the NAD about accommodating deaf and hard-of-hearing workers.

5 Signs That You’re Vulnerable to a Digital Accessibility Lawsuit

How to Make Video Accessible

10 tips for making video accessible - free guide

Now you know why it’s important to publish accessible corporate video, here’s what you can do to make that a reality.

Add a Video Transcript

Video transcripts are a great place to start. Getting videos transcribed is easy. You can publish the transcript alongside your video or on a separate page depending on your SEO strategy.

It’s also wise to offer downloadable transcripts in plain text and PDF format, in case they need a specific format for screenreader compatibility.

And of course, you can offer printed hard-copies of transcripts, too. A bonus: these can be great for note-taking and reinforcing learning.

Add Closed Captioning

A transcript alone does not make your video accessible. But you can use your transcript to create a closed caption track.

Closed captions make video accessible to people with hearing disabilities, learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, neurological conditions, and attention deficits.

Captions also improve the user experience for viewers without disabilities, especially for ESL viewers.

Offer Playback Speed Options

Videos should be able to play at a slower speed for people with cognitive difficulties, or at a faster speed for people with attention deficits. The viewer should be able to easily adjust playback speed on individual videos.

Offer Audio Description

download the beginner's guide to audio description

Videos include visual information’s inaccessible to blind or low-vision viewers. To accommodate them, include a description of key visuals; e.g., describe the data on a powerpoint slide, detail an illustration in a tutorial, describe an item showcased in a product video, etc.

Audio description can be delivered as an audio track to be played along with the video, as a text track that can be read by a screen reader or braille keyboard. This second option is essential for deaf-blind people who rely on braille as a primary means of communication.

Use an Accessible Media Player

icon of a sun, video camera and world map
In order to offer these features, you’ll need to use a media player that supports them.

Most HTML5 video players are equipped to handle basic accessibility features, such as adding a closed captioning track.

YouTube, Video.js, and JW Player have adopted ambitious plans to support more accessibility features.

Most enterprise video management systems support closed captioning, keyboard-accessible controls, adjustable displays, and playback speed options.

It’s also possible to build your own custom media player to accomplish what you need. That’s what the University of Washington did with their state-of-the-art Able Player. Able Player can support closed captioning tracks, video description tracks, and even a synchronous ASL video track.

To learn more about what accessibility features to consider in a media player, watch the webinar recording:

The Future of Video Player Accessibility

Ready to make your company videos accessible?

Explore video transcription and closed captioning solutions for your company here:

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