Importance of accessibility
- What is accessibility?
- What components are needed to make a video accessible?
- How can my video benefit from being accessible?
- Questions about compliance
- How can I learn more about this?
Accessibility describes the degree to which content is available to as many people as possible – regardless of ability or special need. Creating accessible Web content means eliminating the barriers to information for people who may use alternative devices to access content or for people who may need to consume content in different forms.
Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act is a set of rules that governs accessibility standards for electronic and information technology. As a federally-funded institution, the University of Georgia is required by law to produce content that meets these standards.
Content presented in accessible alternative forms is also more usable for all people.
People who produce content to be consumed online have an obligation to include reasonable alternatives to ensure their content meets accessibility requirements. For video, these alternatives are:
- Synchronized captions
- Text transcript
- Descriptive video text
An accessible video will serve a wider audience.
Providing captions and transcripts allows more people to access your audio and video online. Consider the following situations from which many may benefit.
- People who have visual, hearing, motor skill or cognitive disabilities.
- People who cannot understand the audio due to a speaker's accent, sound quality, background noise or other distractions within the video.
- People with low-bandwidth connections that inhibit access to an audio or video file.
- People who cannot listen to the audio or watch the video, but will read a transcript.
- People who find it easier to read than to listen.
- People who cannot play the audio because they are in quiet environment and they don't want to disturb others.
An accessible video will bring more traffic to your information.
- It will increase your ranking in search results. Search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, etc.) are able to index the transcript of your video, but not the audio or video. Some caption files are also searchable.
No one in my group needs captions, transcripts, or descriptions for my videos. Do I have to comply?
Believing that no one in your audience will need alternative materials for your audio or video content is not uncommon. Keep in mind, it is not up to the author or publisher of the content to determine whether or not someone "needs" alternative media. Whether you know it or not, someone in your group, primary audience, club, etc. may need this alternative content. Remember, when you put content online, you are publicizing it for anyone to access worldwide.
Many people benefit from accessible content. A captioned and transcribed video can provide an equal experience to deaf or blind users and also to users who may have cognitive disabilities that affect their ability to listen, read, or otherwise understand the content.
It is not safe or fair to assume that everyone experiences online content in the same way. Accessible Web content ensures a rich, equitable experience for many people with many different backgrounds, abilities and needs.
Can I publish my content and add this later if someone needs it?
It violates Section 508 when a user is expected to self-identify as needing alternative or augmented materials. Providing alternative media as a default makes content Section 508-compliant and avoids excluding or discriminating against people who may otherwise be unable to access your content.
Putting the responsibility on the user to ask for alternative content is discrimination and individuals can file a lawsuit against the University of Georgia under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Why do I have to comply? No one else is.
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension take accessibility compliance very seriously. As a public institution that serves the entire state of Georgia, we are obligated to ensure that all persons are able to access our content. In order to meet these obligations, producers of online content must meet the criteria as it is laid out in Section 508.
Accessibility experts in the Office of Information Technology and the Office of Communications and Creative Services are available to advise you on how to make your content accessible. This may include providing steps and timelines to help make this task more manageable.
If someone else produces and publishes my content, does it have to be accessible?
Yes, your content must be accessible, regardless of who is producing or publishing it. If it is created on the behalf of UGA, CAES, or UGA Extension, it must be accessible.
Avoiding or putting the responsibility of accessibility on a third-party is unacceptable. Examples of this may include asking volunteers or students to upload inaccessible content on your behalf.
As an educational institution, we must hold ourselves to these standards and also set positive examples for current and future colleagues.
If my content is not in the CAES website, does it have to be accessible?
Yes, if your content is official CAES or UGA Extension material and is on a different website, it must still be accessible. This relates specifically to third-party vendors that may host your video, audio, or other online content such as YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes, the podcasting server, etc. It is still your responsibility to see that alternative content is provided and to ensure that the content is accurate.
Accessibility experts in OIT and OCCS are available to advise you on how to make YouTube, iTunes, and/or podcasting content accessible.
OIT has numerous resources gathered to help you understand accessibility requirements and your responsibilities. Check out the following:
- Accessibility guidance
- Audio/video production guide
- CAES accessibility policy
- CAES Web style guide
- Help for video captioning and publishing
- U of Michigan: Web accessibility document on captions
- uiAccess: Transcripts on the Web
- Caption it Yourself: The benefits of captioning
- WCAG: Text alternatives
- Captioning tip sheet