My friends enjoy sending me short videos from the social media platform TikTok, and recently asked me if I had any tips for how to write video descriptions for TikTok videos, since I frequently ask them questions about the videos since I can’t read certain information. I’ve seen people asking others for video descriptions on social media as well, so today I thought I would share how to write video descriptions for TikTok videos and share them.
What is a TikTok video?
A TikTok video is a video that is posted on the video sharing website TikTok. Users create and share their own short videos that are less than a minute in length and often include music, visual filters, text, and other effects. TikTok videos are often shared on other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. This post is not about the accessibility of the TikTok app, rather about adapting existing TikTok posts to be more accessible to people with visual impairments.
- How To Make Your Instagram Feed Accessible For Visual Impairment
- How To Make ASCII/Emoji Memes Accessible For Visual Impairment
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Why should I write video descriptions?
Writing video descriptions for TikTok videos when sharing them on social media or over messages is incredibly helpful for audiences with visual impairments for many reasons. This is because:
- Most TikTok videos do not feature dialogue and rely on users lip-syncing or posting text on the screen
- Text on a TikTok video can be difficult to read or only show up on the screen for a short period of time
- People may miss important details when watching
- Some of the animations or light effects can trigger vertigo or photosensitivity and users will want to read a description of a video before watching it
- Many videos I’ve seen feature users in different costumes or cosplays, and reading descriptions of what someone is wearing can help a user better imagine what’s going on in a video
- Tips For Using Social Media With Photosensitivity
- Joining Anime Club With Visual Impairment
- Tips For Creating Art For Visually Impaired Friends
Video descriptions vs audio descriptions
One of my friends asked me if there was a difference between video descriptions and audio descriptions, and if I would benefit more from having a TikTok with audio description. While audio description is awesome, video descriptions are more practical to include since they are text-based and can easily be added to a caption or linked comment. However, if users are interested in learning how to audio describe TikTok videos, I highly recommend using the free YouDescribe website to describe videos that have been posted to YouTube.
- Creating Audio Description For Viral Videos With YouDescribe
- Creating Audio Description for Music Videos With YouDescribe
- How To Create Audio Description For YouTube With YouDescribe
What to describe
What information should be included when creating a video description for TikTok videos? I’m glad you asked! Important details to include are:
- Basic descriptions of people, animals, or objects in the video
- Any relevant facial expressions
- Transcriptions of any on-screen text
- Descriptions of movement or dance moves, or names of dance moves
- Lighting or animation effects used
Video descriptions can be written in the same way as alt text or image descriptions- I have more in-depth posts on this topic linked below.
- How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions for the Visually Impaired
- How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions For Instagram
- How To Write Alt Text For Digital Comics
- How To Write Alt Text For Memes
What not to describe
Some examples of information not to include when writing video descriptions for TikTok videos include:
- Describing what a color looks like- no need to share what red looks like
- Information about objects/backgrounds not relevant to the video
- Censoring language or changing what is written on the screen
- Captions for audio, unless creating descriptions for Deaf/HoH audiences (though I recommend having a separate captioning description)
- Using Audio Description at Dear Evan Hansen
- Creating Audio Description For Parades
- YouDescribe Audio Described YouTube Videos Review
Where to add video descriptions for TikTok
Many users will post video descriptions within the caption of their video, though others may choose to add the description to the comment section. If the video description is in the comment section, make note of this within the caption. I recommend writing the phrase “Video Description:” in front of the description so that users know what it is. Unfortunately, users cannot add alt text to video posts.
If posting on Twitter, I recommend quote-tweeting and adding the description at the top, or putting it in the replies of the tweet.
- How To Add Alt Text On Social Media
- How To Find Accessibility Emoji In iOS 13.2
- Using Twitter With Vision Impairment
I love seeing new and creative short videos, and am glad that my friends have been sending me their favorite TikTok videos with video descriptions so that I can laugh at them as well. I hope that this post about how to write video descriptions for TikTok is helpful for other content creators and social media users looking to learn more about accessibility!