Best Practices for Accessible Videos and Live Streams

Best Practices for Accessible Videos and Live Streams

We delve into the importance of accessibility in videos and live streams, highlighting best practices to create inclusive video content that resonates with a diverse audience.

The Importance of Accessibility in Videos and Live Streams

The power of video lies in its ability to convey information, tell stories, and connect people across the globe. Live streaming adds another layer, offering real-time engagement that can bring communities together like never before.

However, without proper accessibility measures, a significant portion of the audience may be left out. Accessibility is not just about reaching a wider audience; it’s about creating an inclusive space where everyone has equal access to information, entertainment, and interaction.

Key Features for Accessible Videos and Live Streams

To create accessible video and live stream content, several key features need to be implemented:

1. Closed Captioning/Subtitles

Essential for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, closed captions provide a text-based representation of the audio content. 

For live streams, real-time captioning can be challenging but is critical for inclusivity. Utilizing automatic speech recognition technology with human oversight can enhance the accuracy of live captions.

It’s also worth noting that closed captions are not only used by the hearing impaired. According to Netflix 40% of its global users have closed captions on all the time, while 80% switch them on at least once a month. There’s also studies conducted that show viewers retain information longer if they read and listen to it at the same time.

Finally, many of our younger generation of viewers don’t even turn on audio for content watched on their mobile devices. Essentially it’s a no brainer to include subtitles for your video content now!

2. Accessible Media Players

The media player itself must be accessible, supporting keyboard navigation, screen reader compatibility, and customizable display settings like high contrast and text size. An accessible player ensures that all users can play, pause, and interact with the video content regardless of their physical abilities.

3. Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Adaptive bitrate streaming optimizes the viewing experience across different connection speeds and devices. This feature ensures that viewers with limited internet bandwidth can still access the content without compromising on the quality, making your streams more inclusive to a global audience, no matter how fast their internet connection is.

4. Audio Descriptions

Perhaps the hardest accessibility feature to implement (especially for live streams). Audio descriptions offer a verbal representation of visual content, crucial for viewers with visual impairments. This narration includes details about the actions, characters, scene changes, and on-screen text that are not conveyed through the main audio track.

Implementing audio descriptions require a video player that can support multiple audio tracks, and a person to narrate what is happening visually in the video. For a live stream, all this needs to happen in real-time.

We have personally never encountered a live stream which supports this level of accessibility, but with the improvements in AI video (e.g Sora), it’s likely that in the future audio descriptions will be fully automated.


As demonstrated by the usage of subtitles by non-deaf viewers, you might find that implementing these accessibility features enhances the viewing experience for all viewers. A win-win for everyone!

If you’re interested in upping your accessibility game, then sign up for a StreamShark trial today!

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