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Making videos more accessible to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing


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Accessibility guidelines like the WCAG, or other similar best practices, provide detailed information about how to implement videos to make them technically accessible. Thanks to these documents, we understand the need for captions, sign language versions, and sufficient audio contrasts to accommodate the needs for users with auditory impairments.
However, these guidelines say nothing about how to shoot, edit, or post-product a video, in order to make it more understandable or usable by people with different abilities. Which is logical with regards to the technical orientation of the WCAG and their spawns: this “editorial” aspect of making videos not being in their scope. Yet, video makers, through their design choices, can influence the overall accessibility of video content. This presentation aims at proposing hints and tips to video makers, answering questions like:
- Which fonts are best suited for captions and on-screen texts?
- How to select voices in order to optimise audio contrasts?
- Which angles or framing are preferable?
- How to insert a sign language version?
The layout of the presentation:
- Understanding the different types of hearing impairments
- The wide variety of D&HoH users’ needs
- Captioning and on-screen texts
- Sign language inserts
- Lip reading facilitation
- Dealing with low literacy
- Optimising audio comprehension

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine
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Making videos more accessible to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing

  2. 2. What is it about?Accessible videos? You have seen that already –everything is in the WCAG.True – WCAG and similar resources tell you all aboutthe technical side of things: Implement captions – ok Ensure sufficient audio contrast – nice Implement sign language version – makes sense But what about the editorial point of view? Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 2
  3. 3. Things we will discuss hereAs a video maker, how can I make more educatedchoices when preparing, shooting, editing, or post-producing my movie?We’ll try to answer questions like: Which fonts are best suited for captions and on-screen texts? How to insert a sign language version? Which angles or framing are preferable? How to select voices in order to optimise audio contrasts? Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 3
  4. 4. A word on creativityAll these tips will somehow limit your creativefreedom.I admit it.Now, when you make a video for the Web, are youcreating a message vehicle, or a piece of art?The answer to that question will determine whether what follows is useful to you, or not. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 4
  5. 5. Some things you need to knowThere’s not just one kind of hearing impairment: Some people don’t hear at all Some have never heard; others have heard, but not anymore Some people hear only loud sounds and voices Some people hear only certain frequencies Some people hear well, but are disturbed by some sounds (hyperacousis, tinnitus) Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 5
  6. 6. Different situations, different needs Some people will heavily rely on captions, others won’t use them Some will need sign language exclusively Some will combine hearing or reading with lip- reading Some people will require louder sounds, others will need a constant volume or pitches Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 6
  7. 7. Captioning and on-screen texts Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 7
  8. 8. Users needs for on-screen textsGenerally, texts remain on screen for a very short time.The reader must be able to read them quickly, with asfew errors as possible. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 8
  9. 9. Your top priority: be legibleFactors that affect on-screen legibility:  Consistence of fonts, sizes, and effects  Font face  Relative size  Colour contrasts  Colour combinations  Spacings, alignment, orientation  Quantity of text  Spelling and punctuation Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 9
  10. 10. Consistence of fonts, sizes and effectsHow fast can you read that? “Giddy Fortunes furious fickle wheel, That goddess b l i n d , That stands upon the rolling RESTLESS stone.” William Shakespeare (in Henry V) Simple rule: be consistent, vary only when necessary Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 10
  11. 11. Font face: What makes a good choice  Looks familiar to most (avoid exoticism)  Limits confusion between characters (f & t, l & 1, S & 5, etc.); some combinations (rn & m, cl & d, oj & g, etc.); and symetric characters (p & q, b & d).  Works well at low resolutions (media and/or device)  Includes a large set of characters: accented, graphic symbols (like music notes), etc.  Allows a sufficient density (lines will be short)  Variations like Bold, Italics, Condensed, should be available Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 11
  12. 12. Font face: What makes a poor choice Fonts designed for printing  Serif types (Times, Courier, etc.)  Palatino, Bookman Fonts from the Grotesk family (Arial, Univers, Helvetica) Tiresia, Geneva Cursive and scripted fonts in general Note: fonts like Verdana, Trebuchet, Georgia, are ok for some texts, but not for captions and subtitles Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 12
  13. 13. Font face: Some good choices – Officina Sans Book – Officina Sans Medium – Unit – Fago – Taz Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 13
  14. 14. Font face: about captions/subtitles Fonts like Verdana, Trebuchet, Georgia, are ok for some texts, but not for captions and subtitles. Font of the slabserifs type work well at low resolutions, therefore they are appropriate for captions and subtitles:  Rockwell:  Serifa:  Lucida: Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 14
  15. 15. Size Text height between 1/10th and 1/25th of the media height. A practical value of 1/20th is generally applied. (so, yes, size matters) Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 15
  16. 16. ContrastsA good contrast will make your viewers happier!Apply WCAG rules:  At least 4,5:1 for sufficient contrast  At least 7:1 for improved contrast.Tips:  Insert a background (eg. very dark grey, half transparent) behind captions  Insert borders or shadows around the characters. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 16
  17. 17. Colour combinationsSome colour combinations are more legible thanothers, especially for people with dyslexia orcolourblindness:  Avoid pure black on pure white; look for very dark grays on very light grays  Avoid red/green, orange/green, yellow/green, blue- green/magenta, blue-green/purple, blue-green/blue  Prefer couples of colours chosen in {rust, terracotta, pale yellow} or {light purple, navy blue, magenta} Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 17
  18. 18. Spacing, alignment, orientation Stick with the default letter spacing  Too wide reduces the quantity of text on screen  Too narrow reduces legibility Line spacing: 1.5 times the characters height. Left, right, or centered. Do not justify. Avoid vertical, reversed, or mirrored text. Avoid moving, flashing, or blinking texts. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 18
  19. 19. Quantity Per line: 75 to 85 characters. One or two lines if possible, 3 being a maximum.Note: captions must be synchronized with the video, so theremight be some tough choices to make in some cases. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 19
  20. 20. Spelling and punctuation Provide correct spelling and grammar. Use accented letters where appropriate, even on capital letters. Provide correct punctuation, especially for long texts and phrases. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 20
  21. 21. Sign language Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 21
  22. 22. Sign language: things to knowA language of its own:  Not a mere transposition of oral languages  Syntax and grammar differ totally  Defines a whole culture  See written language as a « second language »All the body participates: hands, chest, face…Different countries, different SLs. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 22
  23. 23. Filming a signer Active parts of the signer’s body must be visible  Show face, chest, hands and arms  Find the right distance  Good lighting, clear background Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 23
  24. 24. Size of the signed videoThe smaller the insert, the harder it is to interpret. If possible: make the signed video as large as the main content. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 24
  25. 25. Signing complexitySign language can convey complexity as well as orallanguages do.However, expect difficulties when interpretinghumour, complex narration, destructured times orplaces, or jargon-laden content. Ask an SL interpret for advice at pre-production level. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 25
  26. 26. Lip reading Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 26
  27. 27. A bit of myth bustingLip reading is not a super power that replaces hearing.It may be used to help comprehension, but is notreliable enough in itself. Only 30 to 40% of English sounds are distinguishable from sight alone. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 27
  28. 28. Lip reading, a misnomer It’s not only the mouth, but the whole face that is « read ». Not enough OK Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 28
  29. 29. Filming talking subjectsFace or three-quarter shots.Find the right distance, the right lighting.Avoid obstructions (facial hair, veils, masks…). Not good Better Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 29
  30. 30. Low literacy Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 30
  31. 31. A common issueFor native signers, written language is a secondlanguage, at best.Reading can be difficult, when not impossible. Avoid large chunks of text Aim for clarity Apply tips on legibility (on-screen texts section) Whenever possible, provide a signed version. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 31
  32. 32. Improved audio comprehension Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 32
  33. 33. A note about users needsPeople who are hard-of-hearing may use amplification:  Via the content player, or their system  Via hearing aids.Some people hear fairly well, except for somefrequencies:  They don’t hear them, or not well enough  Or they hear them too well (hyperacousis).Some people do not recognize or differentiate soundsor voices (auditory agnosia). Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 33
  34. 34. Ensure sufficient audio contrastWCAG2 recommend a 20dB contrast between dialogues andbackground. What does that mean?  A quiet conversation in a library  A normal conversation in a forest  In a noisy street or restaurant, this would require to shoutAvoid filming in noisy places.Whenever possible, at post-production, muffle backgroundnoises and enhance (or re-record) voices.Insert captions or visual cues where appropriate. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 34
  35. 35. Avoid overlapping soundsOne voice at a time.Reduce background noises, music, or dialogues, or anyother interfering sounds.  Bonus: it also improves focus on the main dialogue. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 35
  36. 36. Choose distinct voicesIf there is a narrator, choose a voice very distinct fromthose in the video.  A male voice if most voices in the video are female  An adult voice if most voices in the video are from children or youngsters Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 36
  37. 37. Avoid pitch and volume variationsFrom the beginning of the video, the users should beable to tune their system or hearing aid appropriately.Important variations will cause pain or discomfort, andwill require constant adjusting. Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 37
  38. 38. Thank you!Olivier NourryBusiness Development Manager at Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 38
  39. 39. ReferencesW3C/WAI : Media Accessibility User Requirements: : Media Accessibility Checklist: Clark : Best practices in online captioning: : article : « Comparaison du volume de sources courantes de bruit » (in French): Movement : 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users: Matters: Ensuring Accessibility for People With Color-Deficient Vision: Olivier NOURRY – A11YLDN 2012 @OlivierNourry 39