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ADA compliance and video testimonials

ADA compliance and video testimonials

Recently, Share One was alerted about a case where a business was served with an unlimited lawsuit for posting a video not in ADA compliance. The company did not have closed captioning on the video for the hearing impaired.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is in place to make the world accessible to individuals with disabilities. A recent study revealed that a whopping 91% of businesses use videos as part of their marketing campaigns in 2023 so it’s vital that ADA compliance guidelines are followed.

Under ADA Title III, businesses and organizations considered “public accommodations” must make their services and products accessible to people with disabilities. This covers every business selling anything online and extends to websites and online domains.

Most content creators aren’t thinking about the ADA when creating online content and videos, but Title II of the Act specifies guidelines surrounding recording and editing publicly available videos so that people with disabilities can access the information.

In order for videos and video testimonials to be compliant, and less likely to draw an ADA disability lawsuit, you need to incorporate several components.

  • Videos should have closed captions for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. The term “closed caption” refers to captions which cannot be turned off from the viewer’s side. Videos produced with subtitles are closed captioned. An estimated 11.5 million Americans have some form of hearing loss, and almost 12 million Americans aged 40 and older have some form of vision impairment.
  • Captions should be complete and accurate, timed with the video and speech as closely as possible. If sound effects are relevant to the content and intent of the video, they also need to have captions inside brackets, for example, [doorbell rings] or [car revving engine].
  • Captions must be easily readable and appear on the screen long enough for viewers to read them.
  • Captions should contain no more than three (3) lines of text on-screen at one time.
  • Editors should caption all words regardless of dialect or language.
  • Audio/voice transcription is necessary for blind viewers.
  • Accessible Video Player: you want to make sure your media player has keyboard-operable controls for people who cannot use a mouse. Use an accessible video player that enables keyboard support and allows people to control features like volume, enabling closed captions, or fast-forwarding.
  • Transcripts : making transcripts available is another component to ADA compliance. This is a text version of the audio track of a video. You can post the transcript or provide a URL for downloading it. Audio transcriptions are a requirement of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). While nothing is codified into law, U.S. courts frequently reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as the standards websites should meet to be considered ADA-compliant.

The company AccessiBe has put together an ADA compliance checklist here.

Legal Implications

If your video isn’t accessible to everyone, it’s considered discrimination. In the realm of ADA, it’s discrimination against the disability community, impeding their access to the same information non-impaired people have access to. It creates a digital barrier.

Legal action can result, as seen in our example at the beginning of this blog., which can be as simple as a demand letter for ADA website compliance or could escalate to a compliance lawsuit.

Outside of legal implications, your brand could be damaged, especially given the world of social media and testimonials. Beyond the legalities, we believe that doing what’s right and inclusion is always the best rule to follow.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes and is not intended as legal or ethical advice. All practitioners and advisors are responsible for understanding the legal and ethical guidelines of the governing bodies for their industry and which apply to their situation.

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