As part of new accessibility regulations that came into force setting a legal duty for public sector bodies to make their websites accessible, it was required that our video player on the NHS website was fully compliant to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA). Knowing the accessibility guidelines stretch to the top standard AAA compliancy we also looked to be an exemplar in multimedia accessibility.
To meet the baseline AA standard, we needed to provide captions, a transcript and audio description (AD) functionality to our video player. But what does that actually mean and how does it make a difference?
Captions present information visually for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who cannot hear some of the content. Closed captions are a text form of audio information in video and animations that you can turn on or off.
Transcripts provide audio and video content for people who are both deaf and blind or for people who process text information better than audio and visual information.
Audio description provides content for people who are blind or cannot see the video well. It is additional commentary that describes what's happening on screen in between narration, including any text, graphics or scene changes in the video.
As a team, we didn’t want to just deliver the AA standard. We were aware that a large proportion of our audience are people who are deaf or hard of hearing, who don’t have English as a first language, relying solely on British Sign Language (BSL) content.
We are now exploring how we can deliver BSL content to help us reach the AAA standard.