Christmas Advert Advent accessibility review

Christmas adverts have become a much anticipated event. They’re mini movies in their own right; big-budget storytelling to get us feeling all warm and cosy and in the mood for Christmas. Companies announce the dates that their ad will first be shown, and many of us huddle around our televisions to see what John Lewis has come up with this year, or maybe catch our first listen to what might be Christmas Number 1.

Except the Christmas advert is no longer reserved just for our TV screens; we watch them on websites, or discover them via email newsletters or social media. In our alternative advent countdown, we’ll be looking at this year’s Christmas adverts and how accessible the videos are. Do they have subtitles, captions or audio description? Or have disabled viewers been left out in the cold?

Setting the scene

To begin, it’s important to explain a little bit about what make a video accessible:

Transcripts
Written text versions of video (or audio) content. This includes all spoken words and notation for who is speaking and important sounds.
Subtitles
Spoken dialogue displayed as text at the bottom of a video. These typically translate audio in another language. They are not sufficient for deaf people.
Captions
Speech and non-verbal sounds displayed as text at the bottom of a video. You can think of them as transcribed text that appears as the video is being played. Captions help people who cannot hear or are hard of hearing.
Audio description
An audio narration that describes visual aspects of a video alongside the original soundtrack. Audio description helps blind people to access visual information.
Sign language interpretation
A deaf or hard of hearing person’s first language may be sign language, which provides richer communication than captions as it can better reflect intonation, emotion and other sounds. Note: As a WCAG 2.0 Level AAA success criterion, we are not going to check for sign language interpretation of videos in this review.

Learn more in our ‘What makes a video accessible?’ resource.

Advert Advent

Our Christmas list is based on the Metro’s review of the top Christmas adverts, so we’re starting by reviewing the accessibility of their “least festive” advert – but will we be left feeling merry, festive and inclusive by the end? Check back here each day as we look at what’s been done well and what could be done better.