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Section 10. Multimedia and Animation

Accessibility Score Sheet Questions

10.1    If animation is provided, can the user turn it off and access the information in a non-animated way?

10.2    Are accurate, synchronized captions, a descriptive transcript and/or audio descriptions available for audio visual elements?

10.3    Are accurate, descriptive transcripts available for audio-only and video-only elements?

10.4    If audio automatically plays, can the user stop, pause, mute or adjust the volume?


The use of animation on a screen can pose serious access problems for users of screen readers or other assistive technology applications. When important elements such as push-buttons or relevant text are animated, users of assistive technology cannot access the application reliably and individuals with cognitive disabilities may not be able to focus on anything except the animation. It is important to provide users with the ability to turn off animation and access the information in a non-animated format. In addition audio that plays automatically can interrupt or confuse assistive technology users who rely on audio as a primary means of getting information so users must be able to turn it off as well.

Audio content is not accessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and visual content in videos is not accessible to the blind. In both cases, the information needs to be provided in an alternative format such as descriptive transcripts, open and closed captions, and audio descriptions. Synchronized captioning is required so someone reading the captions can also watch the speaker and associate relevant body language with the speech. These alternative formats are also used frequently by those who have hardware or environmental limitations. For example, the captions on a video can be selected when the audio would be distracting to others in the area.

Test Approach

1. Visually inspect the application or web page to determine if animation is used. If animation is present, visually inspect interface and preferences to see if it can be turned off. Make sure that if the animation conveys content, that the content is available in another form.

2. If audio visual content is present, watch the content to determine if accurate captions and/or audio descriptions are provided. (Note: You may need to turn captions or audio descriptions on). Examine the interface to see if transcripts and/or descriptive transcripts are provided. Watch the video with each and verify that the content is accurate.

3. If audio-only content or video-only content is present, examine the interface to see if transcripts or descriptive transcripts are provided. Read the transcripts for accuracy.

4. Inspect the application or web page with the speakers on to determine if audio automatically plays. If it does, inspect the application to see if it can be turned off.

Development Techniques

  • Avoid using animation and automatic audio when possible.
  • If you use animation, provide a way to turn off the animation or view the information without animation.
  • If you use audio that plays automatically, provide a way to turn it off.
  • Provide a text transcript for audio. A transcript is a word-for-word textual version of audio content. The user should be given the choice of reading the transcript or listening to the audio, or both.
  • Provide a descriptive transcript for video. A descriptive transcript summarizes visual content such as action, settings, and characters necessary to understand the video. It can be both subjective and artistic, depending on the intentions of the author. It should be available in both text and audio formats (called audio descriptions). Audio descriptions should synchronize with the video.
  • Audio-visual content should provide a transcript, descriptive transcript/audio description, and captions.

Posted: Jan 07, 2016 12:41 PM
Last Updated: Jan 07, 2016 12:41 PM