When it comes to creating any form of media, especially videos, typically the focus is on creating content that engages and compels the intended audience. For example, videos about travel may feature exotic destinations, exciting activities, fascinating culinary options, or discuss the affordability of travel to specific locations. In many ways, it is true that content is king, but in stating this, a lot of assumptions (which may not necessarily be true) are being made about the video’s level of accessibility.
Far from “accessibility” based on Internet connectivity and browser specifics, accessible video specifically deals with content that is produced for people with disabilities, such as hearing loss, vision impairment, or an invisible disability. Also known as the descriptive “barrier-free video”, our term is the product of merging the terms accessible and video. Coming from the Latin verb meaning “to see”, video deals with the recording, reproduction, or use of moving images and can be traced back to the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram in 1952. Accessible, coming from the Middle French accessible and Late Latin accessibilis, initially meaning ‘capable of approach or ease of access’, can initially be found in circa 1400, as mentioned in Margaret Joyce Powell’s 1916 edition of The Northern Pauline Epistles, where, in Middle English, she notes Hebrews 12:18: “Ye hath not come to that moderate and accessible fire.” However, in terms of application to those with disabilities, the first usage can be traced back to 1970 in The American Journal of Nursing, where a “Symbol for identifying accessible buildings and facilities” is mentioned.
Overall, a product of the disability rights movement originating in the 1960s (in the United States) and national legislation codifying accessibility for people with disabilities, which first started appearing in the 1990s, the concept of widespread accessible video itself, much like the advent of video content websites, can be traced back to the mid-2000s. Though we typically think of translation-based “add-ons” like subtitling or dubbing, producing accessible video content includes a host of options, depending on the level of accessibility. For example, captioning includes non-dialogue sound elements for those with hearing loss, those with visual impairments may benefit from increasing the size or contrast of an image or the increased reliance on auditory explanation, and, for many cases, the ability to work with a media player specifically designed for those with disabilities is essential.
Considering that more than 5% of the world’s population has a debilitating hearing loss (360 million people), 3.5% have at least a moderate vision impairment (253 million people), and 62% of employees with a disability have one that is not immediately identifiable, this undeniably represents a substantial market segment. Adding to this, studies have shown that 71% of people with disabilities will immediately leave a website if it is not accessible. Beyond just making content to address a need and assuring that potential viewers will stay on a particular website, accessible video guarantees – regardless of need – that we can all enjoy and benefit from the multitude of content available online.
EVS Translations’ white paper: “A marketer’s guide to creating video for a global audience” helps video producers to push their original accessible video content even further – out to a truly global audience.