Broadcasting is an industry that is constantly evolving and adapting to the world around it. Although the online market may be growing, television remains the primary source of media and entertainment for millions of Americans annually.
Accessibility to broadcast content lends itself to boosting potential engagement, and even growth. Services like live captioning, closed captions, and audio description allow millions of viewers who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind or have low vision to experience and enjoy content. Below, we’ll look at ways accessibility has proven itself to be an ally to the broadcasting industry.
One major benefit of accessible content is a broader reachable audience. Thanks to captioning and audio description, both people who are Deaf or hard or of hearing and people who are blind or have low vision can consume broadcast television; a medium otherwise not fully accessible to them. The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) estimates that the Deaf and hard-of-hearing population is as large as ten million in the U.S., with a further one million exhibiting a high-level form of hearing loss. Along with this, around four million Americans exhibit some form of vision loss. This means that broadcasters who don't make their content fully accessible are missing out on an audience in the ballpark of 15 million people.
With most young and middle-aged Americans choosing to consume broadcast media via the internet, improved search engine optimization can boost your online presence. Captions are a great addition to both live and pre-recorded media. A large benefit to captioning uploaded content to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook is that captions enable videos to rank higher in search results due to indexing. Search engines can index the captions embedded in videos, allowing YouTube to rank videos for keywords. With an estimated 85% of videos viewed on Facebook being watched with the sound switched off, having captions is critical to achieving shareable/viral content.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into law in the 1990's and has dictated federal regulations regarding the protection of civil rights for Americans with disability ever since. One major aspect of the ADA was the requirement of accessibility requirements for both public and private domains. Known as Title III, it oversees the basic standards employers, services, and businesses need to follow in order to maximise the inclusion of persons with disabilities. It may seem dry, but the ADA is a governing tool that business needs to accommodate and is the backbone of a truly inclusive society.
Access Anywhere, Anytime
Providing captions on videos gives viewers the option to access content in places where audio may be unavailable. Whether it be on a noisy train, or in a quiet environment such as a library, providing captions means that speech can still be conveyed, even when the sound is not an option. With broadcasting, one common issue is noisy bars, theatres, and sporting arenas providing live coverage of an event. All of these scenarios benefit from accessible captions.
Captioning also lends itself to the online sphere. Approximately 25% of American TV watchers said they are catching their favorite shows via smartphone or tablet. This suggests that a large percentage of viewers may be watching their programs on the move, either while commuting or in public where quality sound isn’t guaranteed. This means that for about ¼ of programming, consumers will benefit from captions on their hand-held devices.
Accessibility and Inclusion
Despite being good for business, making broadcasting accessible has another more righteous benefit. Without accessibility, Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can be limited in their options for entertainment, so by making accessible content you’re allowing millions of persons and communities the opportunity to access mainstream culture and foster inclusion.
People who are elderly and have hearing loss, as well as people with English as a second language, are also impacted when broadcast content is not made accessible with captions. By embracing accessibility, these audiences can still consume broadcast content and other live media without issue.