Thursday, December 15, 2022

For many of us navigating a website, were enamored by the cool features, videos, and pop-ups that appear on the screen in front of us. Our brains naturally consume the constant stimuli and can navigate a site easily to where we need to go. We don’t really have to think twice about what we are consuming.  

For other people, however, this constant stimulation brings feelings of dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and headaches to name a few. For users with vestibular conditions or dizziness, navigating a website can be an overwhelming experience. Constant scrolling, video autoplay, and other elements can not only trigger these symptoms but can quite literally hurt your user.  

We know everyone’s experience with your website is different and we want your Iowa website to be easily accessible. Today, we’ll look at one aspect of accessibility, video autoplay and discuss how to make your website compatible with the needs of all visitors. 

What is video autoplay? 

Video autoplay is essentially a video that automatically plays when a user visits a page on your website. These videos can be shot from any angle. In autoplay, there is no feature to start the play of the video as it happens automatically when a user visits your site.  

An example of video autoplay
An example of video autoplay

How video autoplay is hurting your user 

While videography can be a helpful tool to tell the story of your Iowa website, department or unit (and help the user envision themselves on campus), it is important to consider how to use it in order to provide the best experience for your user.  

For starters, autoplay for any user can be quite annoying. The constant stream of video, sound, and movement can cause them to immediately silence the sound, allowing them the ability to focus on the website content itself.  

For other users, video autoplay is more than a minor annoyance, it can be damaging. For users with disabilities or vestibular issues, video autoplay can make your site essentially unusable. According to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, some users can experience: 

  • Confusion or distraction for users with cognitive disabilities 
  • Seizures and other physical reactions for users with certain medical conditions 
  • Frustration with site navigation making it more challenging, instead of allowing a user to navigate the site in a natural, intuitive way 
  • Irritation as a user is unable to understand the site’s content particularly, those who utilize text-to-speech software and screen readers 

Things to consider 

If you do choose to use autoplay on your website, do so with great caution. Video as a format can be extremely visually interesting and engaging, however, we recommend limiting its use and taking great care to ensure its accessibility.  

One easy thing you can do (if you choose to incorporate video) is change from autoplay to click-to-play. Click-to-play allows your users to manually play your video whenever they choose. This provides the user with the control and allows them to play the video should they choose to do so. Under WCAG guidelines, any media that autoplays, should have controls that allow the users of the option of pause or stop playback. 

Accessibility is an essential requirement for all Iowa websites. Making sure that all your users can read, hear, and see everything your site has to offer is critical. Reconsidering the use of video autoplay will allow all users, regardless of background or ability, to have a positive experience on your website.