This blog on inaccessible video controls continues our series, looking into what comparisons can be made between inaccessible website elements, which an AXSChat Podcast inspired. 

After finishing my original blog, I decided to expand and tell you a bit more about specific areas of assistive technology features that should be used and accessible within a digital platform. This should be the case whether on a website, a document, or any other digital information.

This specific blog explores the problems that inaccessible video controls present to users online.

What Video Controls Are Needed For Them To Be Accessible

This accessibility barrier is a bit easier to explain than other online issues. However, there are multiple ways that a lack of video controls can impact website visitors, which leads to them being inaccessible.

The first inaccessible video problem many people encounter on digital platforms is that a video player’s controls cannot be accessed. This can result in users not being able to interact with the information that is being conveyed in a video. 

Another frequent issue is when multiple videos are shown on the same web page, and the button to start them has just been labelled as ‘play’. This provides the user with no indication of which video they will begin watching once the button is activated or if they have already previously viewed that file.

A frustrating inaccessible video control is found when there is no obvious pause or stop button. This can be especially irritating when either the information you required from the video has been found, and you want to stop watching it or when you need to pause the video, but there is no control available to do this. My experience is that, often, activating the play button again will pause the video and allow you to continue reading the page or searching the website. But, this is by no means obvious to users.

I’ve even come across a website before that allowed you to pause a video, but only for a 10-second period before it started playing again. As you can imagine, this quickly became extremely tiresome. It is a pointless feature that most certainly should never be implemented on digital platforms.

The Problem With Videos That Automatically Play

Sometimes, websites are set to automatically start a video when landing on a certain web page. Ok, so I understand why this can be a dramatic feature on a website to catch a user’s eye, but unfortunately, it can be dramatic in other, not-so-positive ways too. As a screen reader user who relies on hearing the screen reader to navigate a website, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be able to find a pause button if a video automatically plays. If I can’t pause the video, it prevents me from hearing the web page, which is auditory being read aloud.

The Need For Warnings On Videos Which Feature Flashing Elements

It is not only people that rely on sound to navigate web pages. Often, there are no warnings placed on web pages for people who may be affected by flashing imagery, such as users with epilepsy. Worse, there aren’t available controls to allow people to easily stop the dangerous footage, which could impact upon their health.

Everyday Comparisons For Lacking Video Controls

People should be given control over what they watch and what they don’t, with the choice and the ability of whether they want to start a video or not.

I am old enough to remember when you had to get off your chair and walk to the TV to be able to change the channel or adjust the volume. Later, we had a remote control with a wire from the control to the TV. Nowadays, we have wireless remotes and even the ability to make adjustments with no controller at all, such as with voice control.

The other day, when my wife tried to fast-forward the adverts, it did not work as expected. The forward control was so slow it was almost the same speed as the adverts themselves, which was very frustrating. However, the answer was very easy – replace the batteries. A quick resolution and no more unwanted adverts. We had control back.

Just imagine going through one of the streaming platforms, and all you got was the text ‘play film’ or ‘play program’ being displayed. This would prevent you from being able to filter out anything you did not want to watch or find a specific program. Likewise, how frustrating would it be if, when you loaded up a streaming platform, a random film would automatically start playing? Something tells me that a streaming platform set up like this would not last long.

Give The Option For People To View All Online Media

I saw this advert in a window that said: ‘Television for sale, £1, volume stuck on full.’ I thought, ‘I can’t turn that down.’

Although this joke is funny with a play on words, it recognises that there is a problem with the controls. However, the person has the choice if they want to buy the TV or not.

Video controls that have access problems for people who are visually impaired or those who need to use a keyboard to watch digital media, put them at a disadvantage. The probability is that users will give up trying to get the information from the video and potentially leave the platform.

Giving information via video is a great tool. Even though there is a perception that people who can’t see or hear the file will not use the video, this is wrong. Many people prefer to digest content through engaging videos. However, this can only be achieved if the controls can be used and the information is given in an accessible way. Then, everyone can benefit from the hard work that has been put into the creation of the video.

In my next blog, I’ll be covering how you can make your videos accessible to all.

Eliminating Inaccessible Digital Platforms

I know I have used this last paragraph at the end of each of this series of blogs, but it relays the important message of all the blogs written:

These are just a few comparisons between most people’s everyday life experiences and one of the inaccessible features of digital information in their life. However, there really is no need for any inaccessible areas, as there are always alternatives. 

Think about when you could not get access to something. Whether it is in a shop or around your normal life experiences. There is no real reason why you should not be able to gain access. It is usually due to someone having made it inaccessible to you because of the design and not thinking of your individual needs as a customer in a specific situation.

It’s time to make a change and be inclusive.

Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about ways that you can adapt your websites to achieve digital accessibility and improve the user experience for everyone.

For more details about how we can help with website accessibility testing, please get in touch with our team today.