Navigating the world with an impaired sense of sight or
hearing is difficult, but within the digital sphere, that challenge is even
greater as we reduce the entire spectrum of sensory input down to sight and
sound. What happens when one (or both) of those senses is impaired?
In health care, we face a stronger imperative than most to
provide access for every ability level. Statistics suggest that around 15% of
American adults report trouble hearing, and 2.4% of American adults report
visual disability as of 2016. As our population ages, we know those percentages
are only going to rise. In order to care effectively for every person who comes
to us, we have to start by making ourselves accessible.
For social media and Web materials, the test is simple – would
you understand the content of the post or page if the images were suddenly
removed? If not, either use descriptive alt text that a screen reader could
translate or incorporate the information from the image into the text. For
reference, here is a good post about alt
text best practices.
While screen readers can read most PDFs, they cannot read
image files without alt text. For OSF HealthCare social media, we have been
placing any image text alongside the stylized images we use for Monday Motivation
posts. While it may appear redundant, it’s providing improved accessibility
both for screen readers and for people struggling with hard-to-read fonts.
In the realm of hearing accessibility, it’s best practice
that any podcasts you produce should have scripts available or that the content
also be available in another format elsewhere on your site.
At OSF HealthCare, more often than not, if we’ve created a
video for a campaign, it’s also going to be archived on one of our YouTube
channels, so YouTube has become our go-to for generating captions quickly.
There are alternative solutions, but transcribing in YouTube is a
straightforward solution for generating caption files that doesn’t require an
accounting or IT approval process. For longer videos, it may be worth
transcribing in Word first so you can save as you go. The last thing you want
is to be 6 minutes into a video and have your Internet go out.
To add captions with YouTube, upload the video to your
channel, and then click on “Transcriptions” in the left-hand corner. Click
“Add” under “Subtitles.” Select “Transcribe and auto-sync.” Play the video and
type the spoken words and any sound effects relevant to the video’s narrative.
Why not auto-caption? Three reasons: your branding, doctors’
names and accurate health terminology. Auto-captioning has come a long way, but
it does not know how to spell “Dr. Shabirhusain Abadin.” You’re going to have
to help it out.
For our captions, we use “Dr. Abadin: “ to indicate someone
speaking off-screen or differentiate when one or more speaker is sharing
information. We use parentheses for sound effects like (crunch). However you
decide to denote these things, set a standard and be consistent from one video
to the next.
Three quick captioning tips:
Add “yt:cc=on” to the tags for the video to
automatically turn on captions for people watching the video on YouTube.
When embedding, add “?cc_load_policy=1” to do
the same for the embedded video.
From Transcriptions > (Video) > Published
by Creator, you can also select “Actions” above the captions to download your
captions in a variety of file formats. If downloading a .SRT file, you can
rename it “FileName.en_US.srt” to have a Facebook-compatible caption file.
It Doesn’t Take a Bird Box
At the end of the day, we all want to provide excellent,
accessible health care communications, both for internal and external
As search engines and virtual assistants increasingly
determine what content people are served, remember that the search engines and
assistants themselves are often subject to many of these same impediments to
access. If Google can’t understand you, how can it help pass your message