Are your YouTube videos stopping people from engaging with your charity?

Are your YouTube videos stopping people from engaging with your charity?

Multimedia content such as video is becoming more and more popular on charity websites, and with good reason. Often video ranks higher in Google than other types of content, video is an easier way of digesting information, and a 2013 UK study showed that audiences actually engage more with video. So it’s easy to see why charities are leaping at the opportunity to get out their message using this form of media.

Yet, here at Electric Putty this got us thinking about accessibility. Charities might believe they are making more engaging content for their audience by creating and sharing videos, but in doing so are they also putting up barriers to some people? In some cases they could even be making it impossible for people to engage with their content. We decided to take a look at two examples to show you what we mean.

Meet Jo

Jo is looking for a rescue dog online. She wants to find information on how to start the process. She heads to a well-known animal charity’s website, but quickly realises that the information about the rehoming process is via a YouTube video only. Jo is deaf, and the video on the site is a voice-overed animation with no transcript. This is no use to Jo so she immediately leaves the website.

Meet Raj

Raj’s sister has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. He wants to be a supportive brother so is looking up charities with information on how he can best support his sister. Raj finds a well-known breast cancer website but quickly realises most of the information is in video format on YouTube. Raj has MS and finds it too painful to use a mouse so uses the keyboard to navigate. The problem with embedded YouTube videos is that even though you can use the keyboard to navigate to play them, you then get stuck and can’t access any other features of the website.

Why does it matter?

There are millions of people like Jo and Raj all over the UK. 12 million people are registered as disabled in the UK, not to mention all the people who aren’t registered as disabled but who may have an impairment or condition that makes it harder to access websites.

What can charities do?

There are many things charities can do to ensure that when using video based content it is still widely accessible. Below we’ve listed some of the key things you can do.

1. Think about how you embed videos - when you embed videos using YouTube’s ‘embed’ feature, it automatically uses a flash version. This means anyone using a keyboard to navigate your website won’t be able to access the controls. However, if you opt for using the HTML5 version, it will be accessible. Take a look at this great post on how to do this in detail.

This embedded video shows clearly how a user can tab through the different controls and even tab through different video options.



2. Add subtitles to your content - YouTube actually has a feature that allows you to automatically add captions to your uploaded video content, using voice recognition software. However, it is pretty terrible as you can see from the example below:

youtube captions.jpg

However, you are able to manually edit captions as explained in this video:

By adding captions to your video it means people like Jo in our example above can engage with your content. It also makes your content more accessible to a much wider audience. This doesn’t just include people with disabilities or impairments but also people who are unable to play audio such as those travelling on a train or without sound on their office computer.

3. Provide transcripts of your audio - If you already have captions on your video then YouTube will allow you to turn these automatically into a transcript by clicking the ‘transcribe’ button below your video:


You can then make any additional changes before saving it:

video transcript.png

It’s important when providing a transcript that you also provide descriptive detail to explain what is happening on screen i.e. the presenter is now walking across a field.

4. Make sure key information is available in other formats on your site - Video content can be fantastic but as we’ve already discussed it can cause barriers to some users. Ensuring content is available in other formats such as text ensures you aren’t unnecessarily creating these barriers.


There is a lot to think about when it comes to accessibility, but getting a good overall understanding of all of the different ways users might interact with your site can help you address these. In this post we’ve tried to cover some of the basic things you can start thinking about when using multimedia content such as YouTube videos.

We’d love to hear your feedback on this topic. Do you use YouTube videos on your website? Are they accessible? Or perhaps, you have struggled with accessibility barriers yourself and would like to share your experience?

At Electric Putty, accessibility is at the heart of everything we do. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you make your website more accessible then contact us today.