Training content should be accessible to all

A call from MIND to AbilityNet's Helpdesk highlights the need for accessible training materials for employees

A picture of a TV handset the word subtitle is visibleRecently, I took a call from a local branch of MIND, the mental health charity concerning training materials it had commissioned from a third party supplier. The company was delivering online social care training in a video format.

The call concerned a staff member who was deaf and was unable to access the mandatory online training. Viewing this training without any sound it was clear that a deaf employee would find it impossible to access, particularly as the video didn't have subtitles.


Adding subtitles to video is a relatively easy task. AbilityNet, for example, runs online webinars on a range of topics including digital accessibility, inclusive design and training. For these webinars, we use live captioning via a company called My Clear Text entered by a human being, but there are also automated services available.

Feeing helpful, I called the training company that was supplying video to MIND to find out why there weren't any subtitles, and if it had plans to make its videos more accessible. The answer was no, which was disappointing given that one of their courses is about communicating in different ways, and it mentions hearing loss. 


The company behind the training video boasts it has accreditation from The British Accreditation Council (BAC). The BAC wouldn't comment on a specific organisation, nor would the organisation comment.

The business case for accessibility

Legislation and accreditation is one driver for accessible content but there's a strong business case, too. 

There are 9 million people who are either Deaf or hard of hearing in the UK. Not to mention people who have other disabilities, who have a lot of spending power, which is potentially going unrealised - the so-called "Purple Pound."

 

Being accessible doesn't only help people who are disabled, it drives innovation, too.  For example, if you have really good hearing but you are watching a safety film in a noisy environment, then subtitles are going to be really useful. With people increasingly consuming media on the go, it's little surprise that 85% of Facebook videos are played without sound.

 

AbilityNet has a number of experts who can look at how to make your digital content more accessible, and we'd be happy to have a chat to you so you can make sure your content is accessible to as many people as possible.

 

AbilityNet would always say that if you want to make something accessible, build accessibility in right at the start.  It isn't an afterthought.  Don't ignore the needs of your end-user.