I’ve been thinking about the issue of accessibility a lot lately. My father now uses a walker, and sometimes a wheelchair, to get around. It changes the way you look at things. The size of a room or a doorway can have a major impact on his ability to maneuver. Today there are laws dictating how buildings are constructed and what type of accessibility they should have in order to accommodate those in wheelchairs, etc.
And while we think about accessibility in our brick and mortar locations, we often forget that accessibility is an issue online as well. Most of us take the Internet and social media for granted. It’s part of our lives.
If you’re like me, you log online in the morning, check your email, do a quick check in on Twitter or Facebook, and perhaps read a blog or three. During the course of the day you might check in again, watch some videos, listen to some music, and maybe read some articles.
With mobile devices, we don’t even think about it anymore. Rarely do we announce:
“I’m going online”
It’s no longer a discrete activity; rather it’s a part of who we are. Many of us are always online in one way or another. We take that access for granted.
But for many, the online experience isn’t “all that and a bag of chips”.
My friend Joyce, who is hearing impaired, sends me articles from time to time that deal with the issue of online accessibility as it pertains to the deaf and hearing impaired community. She sees the value of social media and has written here about how she uses Twitter.
She recently made me aware of a problem, and a new campaign that deals with online accessibility in terms of the hearing impaired. While the Internet is a great thing for the deaf community, in terms of the information it provides, not everything online is accessible.
Videos, for instance.
A lot of the videos that are available on sites like Hulu or Netflix, or even on YouTube, have no captioning. To those in the deaf community, that eliminates them from viewing and participating.
Watch this video that Joyce shared with me, to better understand what it’s like for a deaf person to deal with web accessibility issues:
Now understand, I’m not a proponent of legally mandating that videos be captioned. But I do believe that if a business or individual posts videos online without captioning, they are eliminating a potential customer base if they are not captioned. I’ve put quite a few videos online, and I admit, none of them have been captioned. But my goal is to change that as I move forward.
Honestly, I haven’t even looked into what it would take to do this, but I do know there are some free options out there. It will take time and effort, but I believe it is worth it. I believe that as we move forward, this is not only good business practice, but it’s the right thing to do.
If you have a business, either large or small, and you are creating video content for the web, I encourage you to consider joining me in support of #captionTHIS. I also encourage you to look into what it takes to caption your videos. Those who don’t, risk losing an important segment of the audience. Those who do, might just enjoy the benefits of the great loyalty from those in the deaf community.
As you move more of your business online, consider the importance of accessibility in the same way you would address it in your own physical business.
How can you make your online properties more available and accessible to those who are hearing impaired?
- Crowdsourcing to closed-caption videos with Amara (terptrans.com)
- American Sign Language (ASL) Hangout On Air, Interpreted (terptrans.com)
- Helping Newbies Understand Social Media (inklingmedia.net)
- Social Media and the Power of Connecting Others (inklingmedia.net)
- New for Facebook Business Pages: Scheduled Posts and Admin Roles (inklingmedia.net)