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Accessible Website

Creating Accessible Websites for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Individuals

The design of a website should be inclusive for equal access to everyone. Barriers which could prevent interaction with websites are removed. This ensures that individuals with disabilities can access the information.

A big issue for deaf or hard of hearing (HoH) individuals is accessing the information from audio or video material on a website. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines request that videos are captioned. Also a text transcript should be available.

Captions enable the user to read the conversations in videos. Laughter or other sound effects are also noted. YouTube has an option to upload captions for videos. There is the automatic captions feature, which can be a good starting point. View the captions with the video to ensure that they make sense. Another way to add captions is to upload a file of the written script that was used to make the video. This video shows how to Create Subtitles and Closed Captions on Your Youtube Videos . While captioning provides better access to content for the Deaf than if there were none, it is not an ideal solution. To individuals who are deaf from birth, English is not their first language. Sign Language is. It is noteworthy that native sign languages have no natural written form.

The Open & Closed Project suggests a combination of captioning (to transcribe sound effects) and subtitling (written translation). Slang, informal speech, and wordplay may be difficult for the deaf, HoH, or those with English as their second language.  It is better to express the meaning of audio content than to present it verbatim. Subtitling, which is a translation, provides an opportunity to use words that are closer to the signs a Deaf person would use.

A text transcript is a separate document containing information from the video or audio. Like captions, this would include dialog and sounds. Transcripts can be printed out and read at the user’s own pace.

The ultimate solution to address multimedia on the web would be to integrate sign language interpretation with the video as picture-in-picture. Unfortunately at this point in time, this is a time consuming and costly option. If only there was a device for the deaf with a similar function that the Screen Reader has for the visually impaired.

In addition to the solutions above for making audio content more accessible for the deaf or HoH, below are some best practices to keep in mind for your inclusive web design:

  1. Use headings and subheadings.
  2. Include more than a phone number in your contact section. Email, Skype, online forms or live webchat are more interactive for everyone.
  3. Instant chat messages alerts should include both blinking screen and sound.
  4. An option in Contact form for the deaf to specify their use of a TDD(also known as TTY) phone.
  5. Use bulleted lists.
  6. Make one point per paragraph.
  7. Use short line lengths: seven to ten words per line.
  8. Use plain language as much as possible.
  9. Avoid unnecessary slang or jargon.
  10. Include a glossary for medical or legal terms.

In closing, I found this amazing captioning video by a Rikki Poynter, a deaf YouTube vlogger.  She is very entertaining and has some brilliant pointers for captioning, not CRAPtioning. #nomorecraptioning.

How have you become more inclusive in your blog or website? Please leave comments for me below. Thank you!

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