[Athen] RE: Keyboard Accessibility in YouTube

Petri, Kenneth petri.1 at osu.edu
Fri Jan 17 15:16:33 PST 2014

A follow up note: Apparently, the "cc_load_policy=1" technique only works if the browser is serving the Flash version of the player. It doesn't affect the HTML5 player. Still, some attempt to force captions to appear is probably worth the effort.

From: Petri, Kenneth
Sent: Friday, January 17, 2014 5:33 PM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network'; athen-list at mailman2.u.washington.edu
Subject: RE: Keyboard Accessibility in YouTube


The captions button is skipped in the tab order for keyboard users in all cases that I have seen. It's a problem. Thank you for alerting Google to the issue.

Screen reader users can toggle the captions on and off in the iframe version of the HTML5 player (and also on the YouTube site). The button can be reached by using the screen reader's virtual cursor. However, for screen reader users it does not appear to be possible to go into and switch the language of the subtitle/caption -- only toggle them on and off. It is also not possible to get into the "settings" menu or into the caption "options" menu (which allows a huge amount of customization of caption appearance).

So captions control is generally borked (that's the technical term) for both keyboard and screen reader uesrs.

One possible work-around for having captions appear is to add a flag onto the URL in the iframe. You can add "&cc_load_policy=1" to the end of the youtube URL in the iframe embed and this will force the captions to display on load. It's certainly not a perfect solution, but it does make the captions appear when the video loads.


[The Ohio State University]
Ken Petri, Program Director
Web Accessibility Center, ADA Coordinator's Office and Office for Disability Services
102D Pomerene Hall | 1760 Neil Ave. Columbus, OH 43210
614-292-1760 Office | 614-218-1499 Mobile | 614-292-4190 Fax
petri.1 at osu.edu<mailto:petri.1 at osu.edu> | wac.osu.edu<http://wac.osu.edu>

From: athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu> [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Amy Beth Netzel
Sent: Friday, January 17, 2014 1:15 PM
To: athen-list at mailman2.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at mailman2.u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Keyboard Accessibility in YouTube


I'm reaching out to the Athens listserv as well as the Buffalo listserv to seek your input.
About a week and a half ago, I saw on an accessibility listserv (not sure which one it was) that there might be some keyboard accessibility issues in YouTube, namely the inability to toggle captions on and off. I didn't see anything else mentioned about it since then, so I decided to research the issue a little to learn more about the situation.

It appears as though using Tab to try to move the focus to the Closed-Caption icon produces unreliable results (in most cases, the focus skips the icon altogether or skips over the viewer, in general). Unfortunately, YouTube does not have a specific keyboard shortcut for toggling the captions on and off.

I'm approaching the listservs to see if there's been any more word regarding this issue and how it impacts post-secondary course content that is posted and delivered via YouTube. I've also sent a message to Google's Accessibility Board to let them know how this poses a problem for viewers with hearing disabilities who also have mobility restrictions and are unable to use a mouse to click the icon.


Thank you,

Amy Netzel

Accessibility Technologist
Wake Technical Community College
Raleigh, NC
Email correspondence to and from this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records law and may be disclosed to third parties by an authorized state official (NCGS. ch. 132). Student educational records are subject to FERPA.
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