Creating Accessible Videos, Webcasts, and Live Recruiting Events

An Employer Tip Sheet

For many companies, the most successful talent acquisition efforts are those enhanced by multimedia technology products—from online recruiting videos, to real-time webinars and live events featuring appealing visual aids. This so called "multimedia effect" can liven up your eRecruiting efforts by engaging job seekers and drawing them into your company's brand and staff culture.    

While today's technology landscape puts multimedia tools within easy reach, videos and events can also present accessibility challenges for certain viewers and participants.

Just consider how a video or event is experienced by someone who cannot hear or see, or how an interactive webcast is experienced by someone with cognitive disabilities.   

Accessibility Pain Points and Solutions

The good news is that, with proper planning and consideration, you can ensure that all job seekers are able to access and experience your recruiting productions. Read on to learn about simple solutions to common problems: 

Inaccessible Recruiting Videos          

According to the Employer's Resource Council, many organizations are producing powerful, low-cost recruiting videos to embed on their career websites and leverage on social media. Such videos have the power to showcase a company's culture as well as its brand, employee benefits, and career opportunities. But when those videos aren't captioned or audio described, they are not accessible to everyone.

Solutions:

  • Captions and Transcripts:
    • Add open captions, or subtitles, to the recruitment videos that you produce. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), "captions are essentially the transcript synchronized with the video or audio. Captions are important when people need to see what's happening in the video and get the audio information in text at the same time." 
    • Ideally, your video production company can add captions for you during the creation of your video. But alternatively, there are numerous tools that enable you to add captions after the fact:
    • Note that even when you provide captions, it's wise to also provide and post a text transcript so that you and your users can realize the benefits of transcripts. These benefits include enhanced search engine optimization (since search engines can't crawl video content for keywords) and increased viewership since not everyone takes the time to watch online videos.
  • Audio Descriptions:
    • Incorporate audio descriptions into your recruitment videos, and/or provide a transcript. Audio descriptions say what's being depicted in the visuals of a video, so they provide spoken cues for people who can't see what's on the screen. View these examples of audio-described videos and presentations.
    • According to W3C, not all videos need audio descriptions. For example, you do not need audio descriptions over talking head testimonial videos (when the interviewee is all that's appearing). You also don't need them for text on slides as long as the slide text is woven into what is narrated or voiced over. That said, you might need audio descriptions of things like charts and diagrams if the narration does not adequately describe them.
    • W3C explains that how you provide audio description depends on the situation.
      • For things like a title slide, you should put it in the main audio track (see this example).
      • In a presentation that is all about visuals, (e.g., a video showing how an online job application works), it would be quite tedious for a sighted user to listen to that audio description; therefore, you might have a separate track or file with the synchronized audio description.
      • You could additionally provide a text file (HTML page) that combines the transcript with the audio descriptions for people who would prefer to skim it quickly, or to listen to it with a screen reader.
    • Tip: If you plan your video script and production elements well before you record the audio, you can usually weave the audio description of key visuals smoothly into the narration. That way, you won't have to go back later to add audio cues. For example, instead of simply having a graphic labeling the name of a speaker (e.g., "Jane Doe, CEO"), you can incorporate narration that introduces the speaker, "Meet Acme Corporation's CEO, Jane Doe...").  

While today's technology landscape puts multimedia tools within easy reach, videos and events can also present accessibility challenges for certain viewers and participants. Just consider how a video or event is experienced by someone who cannot hear or see, or how an interactive webcast is experienced by someone with cognitive disabilities.

Inaccessible Recruiting Webcasts           

In today's world of video conferencing technology, it's easier than ever for employers to host virtual recruiting events. Whether you simulcast a live event through video streaming or host a live webinar for potential job candidates, technology is enhancing the reach, convenience, and cost-effectiveness of recruitment gatherings.

But some job seekers with disabilities will need real-time captioning or alternative formats and descriptive scripts to make the presentations accessible.

Solutions:

  • Make Accessibility Standard Event Policy: All live recruiting events should be accessible in order to reach the largest number of potential candidates. Adopt a detailed policy defining how to make your live webinars, video streams, and in-person presentations accessible. Part of the policy should also include giving an option to request accommodations during the registration process for these events.
  • Be Descriptive: When delivering a video conference presentation, be mindful of those audience members who are blind or have low vision. Identify yourself and others who are with you, and be descriptive when pointing out visuals. And always offer a text transcript of your presentation.
  • Remember Good Lighting: If the lighting in the presenter's location is not adequate, people with low vision may have difficulty seeing him or her. So place yourself so that you face the light source and are not backlit.
  • Offer Real-Time Captioning: For many viewers with hearing impairments, an optimal solution during a webcast is real-time captioning, which displays text-based subtitles to translate what the presenter is saying. When providing real-time captioning, remember the following tips, compliments of Jay Wyant, the State of Minnesota's chief information accessibility officer:
    • You'll need to identify and hire a vendor to provide the captioning service. They're easy to find on the Internet, and your web conferencing provider may be able to make a recommendation.
    • Your video or web conferencing producer will need to provide the captioning vendor with dial-in information, player interface information, and details about the date/time/duration of the event.
    • Determine whether the captioning service has a minimum number of hours for billing purposes.
    • If an unedited transcript is desired, request it upfront and determine the cost.
    • Run at least one test to check for proper amplification to all speakers, ability to view captions and the presentation screen, and ability to view captions on alternate devices such as tablets.

Of course, if a job seeker does not have the proper tools to videoconference or view a webcast, they may not be able to participate in your streaming recruitment event in the first place. This can be a common issue for many individuals, with and without disabilities, who don't have access to a computer with a webcam or broadband service. So remember not to discriminate by penalizing a job candidate who can't participate digitally, as a technology solution may not be reasonably available on their end. Instead, offer alternate interview methods and accommodations to anyone who might need them.

Inaccessible Live Recruiting Events           

Even at a live recruiting event or presentation, accessible technology comes into play. Remember to consider the needs of all attendees as a standard practice at your events.

Solutions:

  • Be Descriptive: Live events are no exception! When delivering a presentation, be mindful of those audience members who cannot see. Identify yourself and others who are with you, and be descriptive when pointing out visuals. And, if possible, offer a text transcript or accessible version of your presentation as an alternative format.
  • Provide Live Transcription Services: Also known as "CART," computer-aided transcription services are real-time captioning services that display text-based subtitles at a live event which translate what the presenters are saying. These professional services can be delivered on location or remotely by live transcribers using shorthand stenotype machines. When providing CART services, follow this checklist: 
    • Go through your company's standard requisition process to obtain the chosen CART vendor’s services.
    • If you choose an on-site service, consider the following:
      • If one or two individuals in the audience are expected to view the CART, the provider should provide access to a laptop at no extra cost.
      • If there are more than two viewers, you should provide a monitor or projector hookup, or the vendor will provide such a hookup or a specified number of additional viewing screens at an additional charge.
      • Ensure the CART provider has access to an electrical socket with enough power to support a laptop, stenotype, and a monitor.
      • Determine whether the service has a minimum number of hours for billing purposes.
      • If an unedited transcript is desired, request it upfront and determine the cost.
    • If you choose a remote CART service, complete the following checklist:
      • For an in-person event, make sure all major participants use or wear microphones.
      • If CART is being delivered to participants via their own devices, all users need access to Wi-Fi.
      • Determine whether the service has a minimum number of hours for billing purposes.
      • Confirm what types of devices can access the CART terminal (e.g., tablet, smartphone), and when the vendor will provide a link to the terminal for distribution.
      • If an unedited transcript is desired, require it upfront and determine the cost.

And Remember...

At minimum, an effective practice for enhancing the accessibility of any event or presentation—whether delivered live, online, or on video—is to provide a transcript or text version of the content electronically on a flash drive.

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