Accessible Video Making with Clips

Videos are powerful tools for raising assistive technology awareness, but only if they reach persons with hearing and visual impairments, too.

Partial Clips app screenshot shows video image of echo dot with caption Speak while recording to add text.
Detail of a Clips app screenshot

This post is part one in a series on easy approaches to accessible video making. It’s motivated by the delightful discovery of the Clips app on my iPhone and my own need to learn more about making captioned and described videos.

The goal is to inspire readers to feel less intimidated about creating videos that are compliant with the “refresh” of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for accessible Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Certainly, the easiest way to accomplish this is to hire a service such as 3PlayMedia. But what if you don’t have the resources? And so much for feeling empowered!

Captioned Videos for Social Media and Assistive Technology

The Clips app is a great way to quickly make a captioned video and share or save it without having or using a YouTube account. The app was created for social media sharing with the understanding that most people don’t listen to a video’s audio as they scroll Instagram and Facebook, rendering captions or “titles” (as the Clips App calls them) necessary to get a point across.

Once you create a Clip, you can share it via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube (etc) and/or save it to files or Dropbox (whatever services you have available on your iPhone). This means when I make videos in the woods with my dog and upload to Facebook, they can be immediately accessible to friends who are deaf (Elaine, hold me to it!) Learn more about Clips features.

Clips videos are also useful with other apps as assistive technology. If you need to make a video for prompting a task within another app, or for providing instructions, and titles or captions are desired, Clips can do the job very quickly and, again, without diverting to YouTube. (Kim Singleton recommends Clips for use with Augmented Reality apps at this Tech Owl post).

Clips Captioning – A Closer Look

I happened to trip across the Clips app while writing about adapted pens; so I decided to test it out by making a video demonstration.  Below is what I accomplished on only my second try with the app. (Yes, really!)

 

Voice recognition worked well when I spoke clearly, and I found editing Clips’s “Live Titles” to be intuitive and easy.

Screenshot of Clips App shows still of hand holding PenAgain over a notebook and beneath is the edit function open on Text with the words
Clips App screenshot in editing mode

The caption style I chose is more attractive than default YouTube captions, and it turns out Clips provides 11 options with varying fonts, sizes, positions, and backgrounds. Honestly, I didn’t notice them all when I fired off this video. I just chose one of the options visible on my screen (again, this was “take two” of using this app).

So now I have a video with open captions. But I still need to make my video accessible to users with visual impairments.

Describing My Captioned Clip

Some readers may wonder why anyone who is blind might want an accessible video. The answer is simple; more and more often information is provided on websites through video clips alone. This is because videos are engaging and often cognitively-friendly for conveying ideas and information. But they fail if we lock out the over 7.6 million Americans the US Census Bureau estimates to have a vision impairment (2017 American Community Survey).

The easiest way for me to make my PenAgain video accessible for persons with visual impairments is to re-film it, this time using a script that describes the pen and my actions as I go. This is, after all, a simple demonstration video and a little mindfulness can make a world of difference.

Also, it helps me to have my vocabulary ready before I start filming. Perhaps you noticed I called the PenAgain’s packaging, “wrapping” in my first video. Those of us–ahem–over age 50 can find word recall a tad challenging, so bothering to create a script is a good idea for a lot of reasons!

PenAgain Spotlight Take 3:

 

To revise my video I copied the text in the app from my first version and edited it outside of Clips to make a script. I also broke my video into three separate clips. I’m learning that I can edit each clip, trim them, and even rearrange them, all within the app. I can also add title slides (“posters”), still photos, and videos from my phone’s library to any Clips project. This is really good fun.

I know what you’re thinking. What about making a Described Video? Not just embedding description in my script, but creating another audio track that describes major action and information and leaves my video alone? Is there an easy way to do that?

Not with Clips. But the subject of my next post will be my adventures creating this version of my PenAgain Spotlight with the free tool from YouDescribe.

If I can do it, you can do it. And eventually, we’ll all get a lot better at it too!

Deeper Resources:

Making Podcasts and Videos Into Accessible Instructional Materials an archived webinar from Maine AEM and Maine CITE (the State AT Program).
Described and Captioned Media Program’s Description Tip Sheet