Accessibility means that everyone has equal access to services. Read our tips on how you can create linguistically accessible content and how a translation agency can help you.
More and more services are consumed online, which is why the accessibility of content has become an increasingly important criterion. The EU has introduced the Accessibility Directive. In Finland, its requirements are included in the Act on the Provision of Digital Services. The act applies to the public sector and certain private companies. Digital services must meet the accessibility requirements. For instance, it must be possible to access the online service with as many different devices and browsers as possible, also by means of assistive devices, if necessary.
By 2025, the EU’s Accessibility Directive will extend to private companies in certain sectors, such as online stores and audiovisual services. Accessibility is becoming the norm, which is why every online company should plan its digital services to be accessible both technically and linguistically – and a translation agency can help in this.
1. Do not ignore linguistic accessibility
The most important thing for accessibility is clear and comprehensible language. Technically well-executed content is of no use if it is linguistically clumsy or unclear. The text may be unnecessarily difficult to read or written in a wrong language. A website is easy to use when there are no technical challenges and the content is easy to understand.
The easiest way to produce linguistically accessible content is to write it in clear standard language, that is, in easily understandable language without jargon. Clear language is not the same thing as plain language, which is language where the structure and the vocabulary have been adapted to make it easier than standard language. The content and the target group are decisive factors in determining if plain language is needed.
2. Subtitle videos
It is a good idea to subtitle videos even if the law does not require it yet because many people watch videos without sound. The text format is not precisely defined, but the most user-friendly method is adding captions that can be easily followed at the same time as watching the video.
At the moment, accessibility requirements do not require videos to be subtitled in other languages. In other words, the guidelines mandate that a Finnish video is subtitled in Finnish, a Swedish video in Swedish and so on. However, having the content translated strengthens the multicultural dimension of accessibility.
Services must also be accessible to those who speak a language other than the language in which the content was originally published. In Finland, public services are designed primarily for speakers of the national languages; however, in the light of accessibility, there is an increasing need to reach immigrants as well. With the help of translated subtitles, you can also reach a wider, international target audience.
3. Transcribe audio content
In audio recordings, such as podcasts, accessibility could be improved by transcribing them as written text. The accessibility requirements of the Act on the Provision of Digital Services require that audio-only broadcasts, such as podcasts, must also be accessible. According to the legislation, organisations affected by the requirements must provide a text version of the recording within two weeks.
For podcasts, this usually means a transcribed text version of the audio recording. As the text version must fulfil the requirements of accessibility, a simple script or summary of the podcast is not sufficient. In practice, the entire content of the recording must be provided in text form, including background sounds, and the text must also indicate who is speaking at any given time.
Creating a text version of the podcast ensures that everyone can enjoy the podcast. In addition, not everyone has time to listen to a 60-minute podcast, for instance: reading the text version is much faster.
If you are reaching for a larger audience, use a translated transcription, in which the podcast is transcribed into another language. You can also use a voiceover to do the entire podcast in a different language.
Corporate language strategy
A company’s language strategy means you decide on which languages will be used, in which channels and how. This raises a few important questions: is all content available in only one or several languages; which language is used on social media; is your website available in Finnish, English or both; and, in addition to Finnish and English, do you need other languages? In addition, the question of who writes, translates and maintains the foreign-language content is also an integral part of the language strategy. Corporate communications should be linguistically consistent, that is, logical. Choose a language strategy and stick to it.
Although the Act on the Provision of Digital Services mainly applies to public online services, accessibility also benefits other digital service providers. Issues such as the equal treatment of customers, a better user experience and access to a wider market should interest all companies and organisations. Accessibility is a key advantage for a company!
Contact us – let’s find the best solution for your needs!