If you’re reading this, you’re well aware of the benefit that captions can have on online content. Without captions, millions of potential viewers simply can’t access online videos and serves as a disadvantage to online performance.
You also probably know that there are a lot of high-profile YouTubers who barely follow through with captions at all. Today’s blog isn’t about that.
Today, we’re focusing on the few who do, when it comes to captions and video content accessibility!
From comedians to philosophers and vloggers, these 10 YouTubers won’t just blow you away with their aesthetic, but their commendable foresight into accessible content! Here’s our top 10 picks in no particular order:
Kat Blaque is a transgender African American YouTuber, vlogger, transgender rights activist, and children’s illustrator who currently boasts thousands of subscribers, and nearly 8 million views. Her channel is built around her own opinions, views, and analysis of cultural and political landscapes surrounding her life. The most popular and ongoing series is her ‘True Tea’ series, which is an unscripted weekly set of videos on any variety of topics.
Kat Blaque’s appeal isn’t just her personality, aesthetic, or intelligent political insight, but the focus and commitment to accessibility. Every video Kat produces is captioned and avoids the notoriously unsatisfactory YouTube auto-generated captions. In fact, Kat wrote an article for the Huffington Post regarding her new found commitment to captions:
“The most popular channels on YouTube don’t have captions and if people were asking for me to caption mine, I can only imagine the massive demand to captions theirs.”
Kat Blaque is criminally underrated, talented, and more importantly, accessible!
Check out her channel here.
If you’re Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, or follow any YouTubers who are involved in the wider disability community, you’ve heard of Rikki Poynter. She’s a leader in the online disability community as well as an activist, writer and speaker who has spent most of her adult life educating people on the necessity of accessibility. Being Deaf herself, she’s no stranger to the frustrations that inaccessibility can have, so she’s fighting back.
Famously, Rikki is the founder of the viral #NoMoreCRAPtions campaign which targeted poor-quality auto-generated captions and promoted the wide-spread use of professional captioning. The campaign was targeted at prominent YouTube influencers like James Charles, and Tyler Oakley who at the time did not provide captions..
Her content focuses on her personality as she vlogs about numerous topics regarding her activism, disability, and Deafness as a whole.
You can find Rikki’s content on her YouTube channel here. Rikki’s content includes a variety of topics regarding her activism, disability, and Deafness as a whole.
You can find Rikki’s content on her YouTube channel here.
If the name Tyler Oakley sounds familiar, it’s because he’s one of the most notable YouTuber influencers today. From a humble beginning as a casual vlogger, Tyler has amassed an audience of 7.4 Million subscribers as of August 2019 thanks to his quirky personality, his LGBTQI views, and his embrace of accessibility!
2015 saw Tyler release a video explaining his move to caption his content and why he believed it to be important. ‘Dear YouTube: HEAR ME OUT‘ [clever pun] was well received and Tyler said it better himself when he wished:
“I want to make my little community, here on YouTube, more inclusive and one of the ways I have decided to do that… is by closed captioning every single one of my videos.”
Yes, you read that right. Every. Single. Video.
From then on, Tyler Oakley’s channel remains a hub of laughs, entertainment and LGBTQI+ content, all presented in an accessible format thanks to #captions.
His channel can be found here.
Sean Forbes is a special addition to this list, as he is another YouTuber who is also Deaf. Unlike others on this list, Sean’s content revolves around his musical talent in hip-hop, and even rock. Saying proudly that he is “on a mission”, Sean captions all his new content to ensure everyone can engage with his music
Sean is an accomplished drummer,
“Music is in his blood… and [he’s] out to build a badly needed bridge between the music industry and deaf people”
Sean Forbes is a naturally talented musician taking on a huge mission to improve access and inclusion in the modern music industry. But with his talent, charisma, and captions, we have no doubt Sean will achieve his goal.
You can find his channel here.
Philosophy Tube (aka Oliver Thorn) is a British actor, YouTuber and self-proclaimed ‘renegade philosopher’ who is tearing up the YouTube scene with his highly produced, intellectual, evocative, and devilishly [literally] entertaining content. Swelling to an audience of 465k+ subscribers, Oliver has made an extreme effort to ensure his content has a wide reach.
Every video from Philosophy Tube is properly captioned, allowing Deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences to absorb the valuable insights the channel produces including reflections on modern politics, art, culture, and the human condition.
Equal access and universal engagement complement Oliver’s online activism. Being an LGBTQI ally with many videos and streams on the topic [all captioned!], Oliver was involved in a large Twitch stream which raised over 300k for a charity supporting disenfranchised transgender kids in early 2019. Since then, he has continued to use his charm, intellect and production skills to forward his positive message in a format that’s available to all.
We highly recommend his work, and you can check out Philosophy Tube’s channel here.
Game Maker’s Toolkit [GMTK]
Do you like video games? How about accessibility? Well, GMTK has both! Hosted and produced by Mark Brown, the YouTube channel speaks about the intricacies of game design and the philosophy behind why games are made the way they are.
There’s a huge community on the gaming YouTube scene, and complaints of toxicity and inaccessibility have resulted in some staying clear of gaming culture. However, Mark’s channel is captioned, and runs a popular series titled ‘Designing for Disability’ that has helped lift this toxicity and allow gamers to see how accessible game design is crucial to the inclusion of millions of gamers with disabilities.
For those who might have little technical knowledge, GMTK lays out its information in a very concise, engaging, and easy-to-understand format that does away with the inaccessible language of the industry.
We highly recommend Mark Brown’s excellently researched, and accessible series. Anyone who is interested in video games or accessible design should stop by!
Check out the channel here.
Adding ‘vintage fabulousness to a life with disabilities’, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard is one of YouTube’s largest stars with a disability, and she does it in style. She began losing her hearing when she was 15 and has Hereditary Neuropathy with liability to Pressure Palsy (HNPP) and Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder (MCTD), which means she is susceptible to temporary paralysis and chronic pain. She made a video all about her disabilities, which you can check out here.
A component of her channel is dedicated to educating people on her rare conditions, on Deafness, and disability in general. Her humour is sharp, and she’s not afraid to use it to tackle some of the major misconceptions people have regarding disabilities. Along with this, her content also covers her LGBTQI+ activism and of course the adorable travel vlogs with her wife, Claudia.
Jessica captions every video, refusing to use the auto-generated captions YouTube usually provides. Along with this she never misses an opportunity to promote the communities she is a part of, even releasing a series of videos for the International Week of the Deaf, and celebrating her own #DisabilityHistoryMonth in December, 2018.
If you enjoy highly produced vlogs, bubbly personalities, and puppies then Jessica’s channel is for you! Thanks to captions, there’s no excuse not to.
Check out the channel here.
Lindsay Ellis is no newcomer to the YouTuber arena. In 2010 Lindsay started her YouTube career reviewing films, television, pop-culture and more through comedic skits and video essays as the ‘Nostalgia Chick’. Now, Lindsay has honed her skills to create a highly entertaining and thoughtful web series exploring pop culture, and the products it creates.
Also, captions! For Lindsay, accessibility isn’t a problem especially when you have a channel of nearly 800k subscribers and 59 million views. Her work is bolstered by her impressive production and writing skills, culminating in recognition for her documentary work on ‘The Hobbit’ mini-series, tackling the issues regarding labour laws in New Zealand post-Lord of the Rings production.
She has self-described as a ‘Youtubetress’ and has spawned memes from her absurd style of humour emanating from her reviews. Captions, text and subtitles all help to make sure no one misses out on the fun.
You can catch her channel here, or on the PBS channel series “It’s Lit!” which is hosted and co-written by her.
Lilly Singh is a comedian, vlogger, good vibe producer, and future late-night show host. This Canadian internet icon has amassed 14 million subscribers, and 3 billion views! Her charisma, charm, talent and humour have greatly helped in her rise to fame, but her accessible content is also a factor to consider.
Making her videos accessible to all, Lilly’s content could be engaged by those in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Coinsidently, it was activists like Rikki Poynter who inspired Lilly to begin captioning her videos:
In 2017, she was ranked first on the Forbes Top Influencers List in the entertainment category which cemented her popularity online. Having such a visible creator embrace accessibility is a reassuring sight, and we hope that Lilly’s success translates into a more widespread adoption of captions.
Lilly Singh’s channel.
Finally, we have YouTube’s new rising star, ContraPoints. Natalie Wynn is a transgender Youtuber, essayist, and humourist who’s tackling the rise of online extremism. Her extremely camp aesthetic, magnificent costumes, and make-up designs give audiences a psychedelic window into society, and the prejudices that form within it.
Formally a PhD student in philosophy, ContraPoints believes she has a crucial message for the online sphere, and her accessible content reflects this.
Natalie’s content has chronicled her transition and experiences as a transgender woman, as well as her fight against far-right wing extremism online. Her recent captioned video ‘Transtrenders’ is an excellent example of how Natalie combines her talents in aesthetic, wit, and humour as tools for political activism.
You can check out her channel, and ‘Transtrenders’ video here.
All these YouTubers should be commended not only on the hard work and activism they promote, but also their mindfulness in adopting accessibility and inclusion practices. By simply captioning their content, they’ve all put in a small effort in order to ensure that everyone can engage with their messaging, regardless of ability.
Setting an excellent example, we hope more channels catch-up and begin captioning their content.
Start captioning your own content! Check out our website for more details.