Advanced methodologies for identifying, evaluating and transferring innovative solutions for accessibility for people with disabilities.

Improving accessibility in audiovisual materials

Improving accessibility in audiovisual materials

colour illustration of a blind person on the left side and a person in a wheelchair on the right side with an old film tape and a digital playback screen behind them.

Tips to improve accessibility in videos

Learn and understand the needs of people with disabilities

Understanding the needs of people with disabilities, and how they access information will help you provide a better viewing experience for your audience. For example, a blind person cannot see the images, so you need to provide an alternative to visual information, such as audio description.

Video format

People use different types of devices to watch videos, such as mobiles phones, tablets, computers or TVs, among others. Consider a video resolution and format that ensures quality viewing in any device.

Close-up shots

When shooting a person talking or two people engaging in a conversation, consider using a close-up shot instead of a full shot. This will help people with hearing disabilities that rely on lip reading to understand better, as well as people who have concentration issues.


Choose a light ambient that will make the speaker’s face visible Good lightning helps viewers to better focus their attention on the person talking.

Make on screen text easy to read

If you plan to include text as a part of your video content, make sure to use large fonts, with sufficient contrast and provide enough time for viewers to read it. Follow the WCAG 2.1 recommendations for flashing elements and lights.

Use colors carefully

Do not convey information using colours alone, and make sure to follow WCAG 2.1 recommendations for proper color contrast.

Add captioning or subtitles

Captioning is usually targeted to people with hearing loss. However, it can also be helpful for people with comprehension difficulties or that are learning a foreign language.

There is not an official European standard for subtitling. However, there are several guidelines belonging to different countries such as the Spanish UNE 153010:2012 Subtitling for deaf and hard of hearing people. This standard offers the following recommendations for proper subtitling:

  • Captioning must be placed at the lower centre of the screen.
  • It should not be longer than two lines.
  • There should be good contrast between font and background color.
  • Each line must have between 37 and 42 characters.
  • Captions must appear and disappear from the screen in synch with the dialogue.
  • Dialogues between two or more people in a dialogue must be separated by Return key.
  • Italics should be used for voices or dialogue offscreen, movies or books titles, lyrics, and words in a foreign language, among others.

Audio description of visual information

Audio description is a spoken description of the visual aspects of a video such as actions without dialogue (people running or walking, car chasing, birds flying, etc.), scene changes, new characters entering the scene or text appearing on the screen, among others.

While its purpose is to help people with vision impairments, it can also be beneficial for other individuals, such as people with cognitive disabilities.

There are no EU wide official audio description guidelines. However, there are several national standards, such as the Spanish UNE 153020:2005 Audio description for visually impaired people. Guidelines for audio description procedures and the preparation of audio guides. It offers several recommendations on how to properly audio describe the visual scenes without a dialogue, some of which are the following:

  • Use a vocabulary that is suitable for the target audience. Videos for grownups differ greatly from movies for children.
  • Add description in the message gaps when specific actions happen in the video such as when a character flips a coin.
  • Consider the purpose of the video and its context.
  • Use a fluent style and simple language.
  • Use relevant terminology.
  • Use specific adjectives for specific actions.
  • Clarify when, where, who, what and how.
  • Respect the image without censoring or cutting elements.
  • Avoid spoilers. Never describe what comes next.

Include sign language interpretation

While captioning can be useful both for deaf and hard of hearing people, some individuals prefer sign language interpretation to better the understand the content and improve their viewing experience. Keep in mind that sign language is not universal, so you must find out which sing language is appropriated for your audience.

Below are some recommendations to shoot a video with sign language interpretation

  • The interpreter must wear clothing in solid shades that contrast with their skin, and background color. They must not wear flashing elements or jewelry.
  • The video must be recorded at a minimum of 25 frames per second.
  • The interpreter’s window must have a minimum. resolution of 256 x 192 pixels although it is recommended to use a resolution of 352 x 288 pixels.
  • The windows should be placed on the lower right side of the video.

Video transcript

A transcript is a downloadable text file containing both the visual and sound information of the video. It should include:

  • Identification of individuals appearing on the video (characters or other people).
  • Dialogue.
  • Sounds (music, applauses, laugh, special effects, etc).
  • Description of actions, people, corporal expressions, settings and locations.
  • Written texts that appear in the video.
  • Any other relevant visual information.