The disabled community makes up a large percentage of the online world. Considering this reality, you have ample reason to make your YouTube channel accessible to all viewers. Despite this, and despite the moral, economic, and legal reasons to consider accessibility when creating an online brand, many YouTubers don't take appropriate measures to make their channels accessible to everyone. Whether it is out of a lack of knowledge or a lack of resources, only a small percentage of YouTubers consider accessibility in their videos.
Not surprisingly, some of the best examples of YouTubers who create accessible content are disabled themselves. Using the channels of some of the most popular disabled YouTubers as examples, this blogpost sets out to list three of the easiest and most important ways that you can increase online accessibility in your YouTube channel.
- Use closed captions Easy to do and very useful, adding closed captions to videos allows hard-of-hearing or deaf users to engage with YouTube content. Closed captions are not only a responsibility of any YouTuber hoping to reach out to the disabled community, they’re also a great for reaching a wider audience. Why? Because many people don’t turn up the volume. For instance, many people who watch Facebook videos watch them without sound.
YouTube makes adding closed captions to videos fairly easy, and there are even options to allow international viewers to translate your captions into other languages. And don’t forget to include the symbol [cc] on your YouTube video titles that include closed captions. Jessica Kellgren-Fozard is an example of a disabled YouTuber who makes sure to do just that.
- Talk about disabilitiesAn easy way to make your channel more accessible is simply to acknowledge the disabled community in your videos. Inclusivity is part of what makes the disabled YouTube community such a viral one. YouTubers like Annika Victoria take viewers inside the life of a disabled person with "get ready with me” videos and "a day in the life" videos that detail what day-to-day living is like for them. If you are not a disabled YouTuber yourself, inviting disabled people on your channel or simply acknowledging them in your content is a good way to increase your following and your reach.
- Include sign language. YouTubers can can increase their videos’ reach and accessibility by including sign language. Sign language is often unnecessary when closed captioning is available, but considering there are hard of hearing users who cannot read, sign language is a way to go above and beyond.
Making the Internet accessible takes time, knowledge, and skill. Even so, it can be surprisingly easy to contribute to accessibility with little changes that will benefit both you and your viewers. Take those small steps to increase your following and do your civic duty one post at a time.