9 Tips for Making Your Video Content More Inclusive
Inclusivity and diversity within video and marketing are not just buzzwords – it’s important and can have a real impact on how people access and interact with your brand. Most of these apply whether you’re making an animated explainer video or are filming a live-action brand video, or creating paid content for social media.
Here are some quick ideas to boost inclusion in your video content, both in terms of content, and how you display it to your audience.
1 – Closed captions / subtitles
Including closed captions is one of the most important tips for accessibility within the video, and it’s also one of the easiest.
If you include closed captions, which is basically a timed transcript of the audio content, it means anyone with the sound off or unable to hear still gets your message.
With subtitles, you only display the dialogue. But if there is a lot more to hear, then closed captions generally explain more of the scene. For example, if a loud noise happens, or music starts, this extra information gives someone who may be heard of hearing more of the full picture.
You can either hardcode them (so that they can’t be removed and are permanently displayed). Or you can upload an SRT file to the video player, such as Youtube so that users have to option to turn the subtitles on or off.
Animated explainer video with English subtitles that have been added within the video player, allowing the user to turn on and off as needed.
2 – Diversity in Your Production Team
An easy way to avoid pitfalls like racist content (it STILL happens!) or harmful stereotypes in your video, then a diverse video production team can help to prevent this and any unconscious bias.
For example, if your company is sponsoring a Pride event and wants to make a Pride-themed promotional video for your company – you may want to include someone LGBTQIA+ on your team.
They can’t possibly be a speaker for all and know everything, but they will be more likely to understand what resonates well and what would be considered offensive or poor taste.
They will also probably be delighted to be included in the project and have an interesting insight.
3 – Diversity in design
When including characters, whether filmed or animated, you want to consider different ethnicities, genders, sexual preference, ages and abilities.
Or an alternative that is done sometimes in animation, is where characters are designed not to be male nor female – and are no particular ethnicity. For example, they have a gender-neutral body, clothing and hair, and purple skin colour perhaps.
This method is used quite often to avoid alienating anyone, it has its benefits, but it’s still quite limited.
And because we are often seen to be in a male by default society, frequently when an illustrated character is drawn ‘gender-neutral’ people still assume they’re a male anyway. So it’s something to watch out for
Adding diversity in design is not just a box-ticking exercise. Representation within our media is vitally important, especially representation of different characters that go against negative stereotypes – and it’s shown to help reduce hostility.
When selecting a stock video or photo for a video, this can also be a challenge, as many stock sites mainly include young white people. This is especially the case for office or professional business scenes.
There are some websites for finding diverse stock photography and it’s getting easier – but we generally have a long way to go to find a fair representation in stock assets.
People want to see themselves represented in the media, so diversifying design is a great step towards inclusivity.
4 – Consider Colour in Design
To make the information more legible, high contrast between colours in design is preferred.
For UX design, a colour contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between all text and background is preferred.
In basic terms, if the background colour is dark, the text must be pale enough to ensure it’s visible. You can check colour ratios here.
For video production, there is no hard rule yet, but following close to this guidance ensures that it’s clear for most people to see and understand.
It’s surprising how often you still see, for example, red text on a green background with a similar tone.
5 – Text size
If you have animated captions within the video, consider making them larger. Designers often resist, because it takes up more white space, making the screen fuller. But if it’s done thoughtfully, it can be designed well and be legible.
Most videos will end up being played on a phone, you can’t just create a video for a large computer screen audience any more.
Having larger text will make the video more inclusive for mobile phone users and the visually impaired.
6 – Avoid Jargon and Complex Industry Terms
Everyone uses jargon in their industry, but in a video, it often doesn’t come across well – it’s too niche for the general audience to understand.
Using simple language, avoiding buzzwords and long complicated sentences (especially in passive voice!) will make the video much more accessible to everyone.
7 – Include a Video Transcript Beneath the Video
If the video is very long, maybe over 10 minutes, a video transcript underneath will help viewers to recap the information after they watch. This is especially helpful, as a video this long is most likely to be educational – you want the audience to learn.
Including a transcript they can follow, or read after, will help them to remember more of the content for later, and make it easy to reference back to content. Ted Talks are a great example of use of Transcripts for their video content
8 – Celebrating Diverse Staff and Good Company Culture
If you have a great inclusive company culture, with a diverse and happy workforce then celebrate it!
For example, if you have certain programmes, for example, Women in Digital – then a video on the topic will be authentic and engaging.
If your staff are happy to be filmed, get them on camera to say what inclusion and diversity mean for them within your organisation.
That will be genuine and heartfelt, and make people want to both works for you and use your products or services.
If they really feel comfortable and valued in the workplace, you can’t fake this joy!
9 – Multi-Language Video Versions
Assuming that everyone knows English to a good standard can be a little presumptuous. For example, if your audience is simply ‘Americans’, there are around 60 million non-English speakers, so including foreign language versions of your video can really make it more accessible to a wider audience.
This can generally be done in 2 ways, full naturalisation of the video, or subtitles.
Full naturalisation is when you translate the full script and record a new voiceover in the desired language, and you change any animated on-screen text. Or if it’s a presenter-led video, you re-record with a new presenter, or you can dub over the voices in the desired language.
This thorough process makes the video look fully naturalised and is the easiest for anyone of that language to understand.
A less expensive and quicker way is to include foreign language subtitles, so that the user can choose which language they want. And they can read that along with the English version.
Explainer Video with Portuguese subtitles hardcoded on
Animated Video that has been fully naturalised into Arabic