Universal design...

Universal design of videos

Norsk versjon: Universell utforming av videoer

For educators who produce their own videos for use in asynchronous teaching, there are 3 mains points to consider when ensuring that videos are universally designed. They are:

Videos that are compulsory course material in a subject must meet all these requirements. The aim of these 3 steps is to ensure that the information conveyed in the video had been transmitted both visually and through hearing – so that the information is available in both sensory channels.


Several NTNU video playback platforms have subtitle options. In Panopto it is possible to order subtitles directly from the supplier. See this guide.

This is automatic subtitling, so you may need to go in to correct punctuation and specific terms afterwards. Research shows that subtitling works quality-enhancing on learning videos, and at the same time allows videos to be viewed without headphones on, for example, the bus, the study hall room or similar.

Audio description

The purpose of audio description is to convey the visual information in a video through audio. In the traditional sense, audio description consists of a narrator voice that neutrally describes the action in parts of the film that do not contain speech.

In integrated audio description:

  • Read all the text from your slides aloud
  • Describe words and graphs you use in your presentation with words
  • Don't use place-based words like here, there, what you see over there, etc.

Use of graphics

The guidelines for the universal design of websites lay down requirements for the use of graphics, which also applies to video. In short, the requirements are

  • Avoid color contrasts that convey important information for example in a table, examples of color contrasts that are problematic are green/red and purple/yellow.
  • Use large enough fonts on text burned into the video. Here you should take into account that the video might also be viewed on a mobile device.
  • Strong enough contrast for text against the background. The strongest contrast is white text against black background, or black text against white background. White text against a yellow background, for example, provides poor readability. 

Other factors affecting accessibility

Also, good quality of both audio and video makes the content more accessible. You may also want to think about the verbal performance - if it is articulate enough? How is the tone of voice and tempo of speech? Many of the rules of universal design are consistent with good design of learning videos in general.

More information on the topic can be found on Universell’s website: