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Why This is Important
Audio with little to no background noise is accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.
Blind and visually impaired people use screen readers to interact with websites and apps. A screen reader is a type of assistive tech that converts things on screen to audio and/or braille. It's important that things are understandable and interactive to screen readers.
Keyboard accessibility is essential for people who do not use a computer mouse (which might be because they have unpredictable or very specific movement due to a motor disability). Many Blind and visually impaired people also use keyboard interactions in order to use their screen reader.
Error support is accessible to people with a diversity of disabilities. A cognitive disability might affect how a person perceives and understands things. A physical disability might lead to unpredictable movement. Other factors such as environment, stress, and multi-tasking may also lead to errors.
In order to be accessible, gestures and interactions must account for people with physical and motor disabilities, who might have unpredictable or very specific movement.
Deaf or hard of hearing people often need support in distinguishing speech from background noise. In order to be accessible, any background noise in audio content should be completely taken out, be able to be turned off, or be at least 20 dB lower than the speech level (number prescribed by WCAG).
This references WCAG criterion 1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio (Level AAA).
Level AAA compliance is considered more difficult to meet because it requires more resources to fulfill. It also might encompass conflicting access needs (meaning what is accessible to some might be inaccessible to others). Use your best judgment of your target audience and your team's capabilities to determine if this is a pragmatic goal to reach.
How to Implement This
There are 2 basic ways to create audio content with little to no background noise: record audio in a quiet space with a good mic and then edit out any background noise in the editing process.
The best way to avoid background noise is to record quality audio in a quiet space. Though it sounds simple, obtaining a quiet space could be challenging for multiple reasons. External noise is a huge factor, and if your space is near construction, near traffic, has loud heating/cooling, or has loud people, recording audio there might not be an option.
Here are a few articles that recommend ways to improve the acoustics of your space and create your own recording studio.
- How to Create a Silent Home Studio
- How to Soundproof a Room for Audio Recording - ALC
- Recording Environment: 11 Tips for Capturing Quality Audio When You Don't Have a Studio - Sarah Mikutel
If recording in your home is not an option, you can consider going to an audio recording studio. Many public libraries have private study rooms that you could use. Some also have audio recording studios.
If possible, get a quality microphone. There are quite a few small mics that can connect directly to a computer, tablet, or mobile device. I recommend desktop Shure mics that can connect to a computer or mobile device (not a paid endorsement).
Here are some suggestions for ways to edit out and reduce audio.
How to Test This
If there is any audio content, listen to it and note of any background noise.
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