Best Strategies for Creating Media and Marketing Content that is Easily Accessible By Individuals With Auditory Disabilities

When it comes to creating media and marketing content that is easily accessible by individuals with auditory disabilities, there are various steps a business can take to ensure that content is not only easy to access, but also comprehend. Below are six strategies that should and could be employed across websites, videos, and print content to ensure that the deaf/hard-of-hearing can interact with it just as someone with full use of their sense of hearing could. These insights were identified from hearing experts and organizations for the auditory disabled in the UK. Each suggestion is followed by an example of the strategy being employed successfully. Where possible, references to the impact that these strategies can have on individuals that use ASL or BSL were included, although additional research would be required to identify strategies specific to creating content designed specifically for those communities.

  • Integrate a sign language video as an alternative video source to the content being published so that individuals who are deaf, struggle to read closed captions, or do not understand written language at all can access and comprehend material easily and immediately. This alternative should be linked directly beneath or in the near vicinity of media content so that it is visible and automatically directs users to a new video that depicts another person conveying the message in sign language, whether it be ASL, BSL, or an alternative sign language. The actual sign language video itself is done most efficiently with a recording of a live signer, although other options include using a deaf signer due to advancement of their linguistics, or a virtual signing avatar that conducts text-to-sign translation automatically.
    • A toggle button like the one shown here can direct users to another video that conveys the same content described in a web page or audio file, but through a live signer or avatar. Having this toggle button ensures users can immediately digest the same content being displayed without having to scour the web for alternative resources.
  • Include not only closed/open captions for video content but also full transcripts so that deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can digest content at their own speed. Some people with auditory disabilities report struggling to keep up with the speed of captions in videos, so transcripts mitigate this and also present the opportunity to highlight and bolden content for additional emphasis. From a marketing perspective, transcripts can also ensure a video shows up higher in search results, as pages with more than 2,000 words are more likely to show up within the first 10 search results and present a greater opportunity for showing up in keyword searches.
    • This YouTube video integrates the entire transcript with time stamps (accessible via the three dots to the right of the “Save” button), as well as on-screen closed captioning so that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can not only watch the video, but also read along for better comprehension.
    • This source also depicts how transcripts of a video with time stamps can be obtained and describes that these are automatically generated by YouTube if not manually written by the party that uploaded the video.
  • Add more than just a phone number as a means of contact or communication support, regardless of the content being published. Many individuals with auditory disabilities have difficulty speaking, let alone hearing, making phone calls a major inconvenience for obtaining additional information or getting questions answered. Instead, users should be permitted the ability to choose how they want to receive support, whether it be email, mail, face-to-face interactions, or even an option for a live signer to convey important information.
    • British Deaf News offers its readers the ability to contact the business via email, SMS text, live instant messaging, video calling, and sign video relay.
  • Websites can and should be built according to the Web Accessibility Code of Practice British Standard. This specifically includes code BS 8878 (previously PAS 78), which provides recommendations for adding an accessibility policy and statement, various assistive technologies, designing an inclusive site, and assurance guidelines to verify that the final website truly is inclusive and accessible to individuals with disabilities.
    • This source provides access to the complete package for the BS 8878, which allows users to create a website that is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities according to the British Standard for Web Accessibility. It also contains a video with an additional link to a transcript for easier reading.
  • In terms of print or written content, the Independent Cinema Office in the UK makes multiple suggestions for creating accessible materials. This includes keeping written content short and concise, but also simple in terms of the terminology used; large chunks of text can be discouraging and also more difficult to comprehend, as some hard-of-hearing individuals do not recognize written language. The ICO also suggests that any and all abbreviations that are part of BSL are defined the first time they are used. A stark contrast of at least 25% should be maintained between colors and text, and text should not be placed on top of images unless a gradient is placed in between.
    • The website for Deaf Blind UK is a stellar example of the stark contrast used between backgrounds and text, making it easier for deaf/hard-of-hearing users to read content on the web page. The text is written in bold purple, green, white, and black colors in an easy-to-read font that is well-spaced and condensed in terms of the total content on the page.
  • For video content that also has sound, experts recommend not having videos start automatically upon the page loading. When videos and their audio tracks play immediately, it makes it more difficult for individuals with auditory disabilities to gauge how loud the video is or what parts are being emphasized. Instead, by allowing users to press play on a track whenever they are ready, content is more likely to be watched and comprehended.
    • The American Sign Language website has a video on their website that describes what people can do when they obtain a degree in ASL. The video does not play automatically, but rather clearly displays a “play” button in the center of the video, as well as links to save and watch later or even share the video.
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