Survey reveals top digital accessibility blunder: Lack of captioned videos 

By: Verbit Editorial

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A new survey on digital accessibility found the lack of video content being captioned as the top accessibility error reported by 3,500 experts.  

The survey, produced by Applause, a testing and digital quality service company, gathered results from more than 3,500 software testers, developers, product engineers and QA and UX professionals. It aimed to explore how companies are prioritizing accessibility when developing digital experiences and the accessibility knowledge level of respondents. 

Accessibility and Inclusive Design” asked participants to rate their organizations’ level of conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a series of international standards for making web and mobile content more accessible to people with disabilities. Here are the top findings gathered in the report. 

Lack of captions hinders accessibility

Survey respondents were asked to note the top five accessibility errors made by developers in 2024. Nearly half of respondents (47.8%) identified videos that lack captions as the chief error. Error alerts not being descriptive (45.1%), sites not usable by screen readers (40.3%), sites not navigable via keyboards (39.3%) and site and page structures being unclear (38.5%) rounded out the list. 

Without adding captions to videos, that content becomes inaccessible to certain audiences, including the millions in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Captions have also been shown to boost viewer engagement, improve knowledge retention and better support individuals with unique learning needs, making them an asset for everyone.  

Caption files also support text in multiple languages, allowing for translation to make content accessible to more international audiences. They also help increase a video’s SEO ranking and, importantly, help websites satisfy the accessibility guidelines outlined by WCAG.  

WCAG 2.0 Level AA is widely considered the standard for web accessibility. To achieve WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance, Level A standards must first be met. Below are some of the benchmarks for Levels A, AA and AAA. 

  • Level A: WCAG Level A requires simple, now standard accommodations like captions on prerecorded audio content. A website that doesn’t meet this standard is likely to exclude visitors while also offering a poor user experience. 
  • Level AA: All the requirements of level A carry over into Level AA, but website content must meet additional standards for this rating. In Level AA, captions are required for all live audio while audio description is required for all prerecorded video content. Level AA is currently the expectation that websites should meet, at a minimum. 
  • Level AAA: In addition to Level A and AA requirements, Level AAA notes that web pages include such things as extended audio description and sign language interpretation. WCAG Level AAA is the most comprehensive standard for digital accessibility and includes a higher, more strict set of benchmarks than the other two levels. 

Inclusive design is a growing priority 

The survey also shows that companies are spending more time thinking about inclusive design, with 44% of respondents “strongly agreed” that digital accessibility is a higher priority for their company than it was last year. However, they sometimes lack the resources to make further progress. 

77% of those surveyed said they have a person or group at their organization responsible for ensuring products are accessible, and nearly 80% of developers noted that they build accessibility into their design plans at the earliest stages. 

The survey, however, notes a disconnect between making accessibility a priority and investments in internal resources. 73% of respondents said that their organizations are not adequately equipped to test for accessibility on an ongoing basis without external help. 

“Accessibility is an increasingly important focus area for companies,” said Bob Farrell, Vice President of Solution Delivery and CX Practices for Applause. “Growing awareness of the importance of employing inclusive design principles and writing code with accessibility in mind is not just driving value for people with disabilities but helps deliver great digital experiences for all users.”  

How to go about building a more inclusive site and community 

Today, ensuring digital accessibility and inclusive spaces through captioning is not just a legal obligation, but a moral one as well. Verbit is working with businesses and universities daily to help them make their online presences, content and events more accessible.  
 
By leveraging advanced AI solutions like Verbit Captivate™ and the expertise of the world’s largest professional captioning workforce, our partners are now able to caption and transcribe their content accurately, efficiently and more affordably. Together with our partners, we’re fostering inclusivity by making content more engaging, equitable and accessible to all.  
 
Feel free to reach out to us for advice on meeting today’s guidelines, improving your digital accessibility or enhancing the way your community communicates and learns.