Identifying audience and channels

Once you’ve established your video’s aims and objectives, you’ll need to identify your target audience.

Target audience

Your next step will be to figure out where you can find this audience online. What gender, age, location, culture, behaviour, interests, do your viewers have?

Start by taking a look at the audience insights on the channels available to you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • is your audience following you on Facebook?
  • do they make up the majority of your Twitter audience?
  • are they not on social media at all, but visit your website frequently?

Once you have found the most relevant channel or channels, take a look at similar video content to see what appeals to your target audience.

Task: Map your online audience


When we talk about accessibility in relation to video content, we mean making the video more accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or have a condition that makes it more difficult to process information. It also assists people who don’t speak English as a first language.

Our main concerns in planning accessible video content should be our goals, message and audience:

  • what are we saying
  • who are we saying it to
  • why and how

We should strive to make the majority of our video content accessible to all, regardless of the channels or devices people are using, and limitations they may have in perceiving certain types of content.

Closed captions and subtitles are primarily intended to serve viewers who have a hearing impairment. But around 35% of all broadcast viewers use subtitles regularly for online content, especially on mobile devices, or when speakers or headphones may not be available. This is also partly due to the recent change in viewers’ preferences when watching video on mobile devices and social channels.

Research now shows that if your video includes captions, the number of people that will finish watching your video will increase significantly.

As many as 85% of videos on Facebook are viewed with the sound off.

Universal design guidelines

Key points include:

  • ensuring subtitles (captions) are in standard readable language - high priority
  • presenting subtitles (captions) in blocks, not word-by-word
  • starting and ending subtitles (captions) at natural, logical points - high priority
  • choosing line breaks within a subtitle (captions) carefully
  • allowing adequate reading time
  • using a clear visual presentation - high priority
  • positioning subtitles to avoid obscuring important content

Including automatic captions in YouTube

If automatic captions are available, they’ll automatically be published on the video. Automatic captions may not be ready at the time that you upload a video. Processing time depends on the complexity of the video’s audio.

Remember to check the generated automatic captions as they are not perfect and might misrepresent the spoken content due to mispronunciations, accents, dialects, or background noise. You should always review automatic captions and edit any parts that haven’t been properly transcribed.

Here’s how you can review automatic captions and make changes, if needed:

  1. Go to your Video Manager by clicking your account in the top right then Creator Studio then Video Manager then Videos.
  2. Next to the video you want to add captions or subtitles to, click the drop-down menu next to the Edit button.
  3. Select Subtitles and CC.
  4. If automatic captions are available, you’ll see Language (Automatic) in the “Published” section to the right of the video.
  5. Review automatic captions and use the instructions to edit or remove any parts that haven’t been properly transcribed.

Other considerations for accessible video

  • Include relevant professional information in the video script, don't just present it visually (for example a title block introducing a consultant or nurse in a video) - have speakers introduce themselves 
  • Do not use the autoplay feature when embedding YouTube videos on other websites – these can be disorienting to groups of users with vision impairments
  • Do not use flashing content – this can trigger epilepsy and migraines in susceptible individuals

Considerations for people who have a visual impairment

Ideally, video content should still be accessible to people who can’t see it. Often people with visual impairments can consume most of the content in a video just by listening to the audio. If there is important visual content, which non-visual users are missing, that needs to be provided to the user in some way, they should be included if at all possible.

There are various techniques that can be used to communicate your message to people with a visual impairment:

  • Create a separate narration track that overlays the main audio and describes key visual information (also known as audio description or AD)
  • Describe actions, or non-audible messages, within the voice-over or AD
  • Create a concept with a script or voice-over that outlines all key messaging

Considerations for people who have a hearing impairment

Closed captioning can help hearing-impaired individuals experience video more fully. Closed subtitles can be switched on and off by the user and are not ‘burnt in’ to the image - typically they are created as a separate file and uploaded with the video. Video scripts should be in plain English and easy to understand. Captions should be a written version of the spoken content in a video.

Using a signer in your video will also make it accessible to this audience, taking care that the signer is gesturing slowly, clearly and synchronised with the audio content of the video.

When creating a video that includes a video of a sign language interpreter, make sure there is the option to play the video full screen in the users’ assistive technology. If this is not possible, then the “interpreter portion” of the video needs to be adjustable in size so that the signer is clearly visible to the user in the smaller video view. This may result in the interpreter taking over a much larger portion of the video screen.

Also, be sure to use the national sign language appropriate to the audience, as there is currently no single universal sign language. For example we use Irish Sign Language (ISL) in Ireland.

Reference material

For more information, read the following resources: