- Does WCAG 2.1 allow autoplay of videos, as long as no sound is played?
- Do these videos not require controls at all, as long as they are shorter than 5 seconds?
- Or does WCAG 2.1 require controls for any videos - regardless of length and whether sound is played or not?
A video that has no audio and automatically stops playing after 5 seconds or less does not require controls to conform to WCAG 2.1 AA. However, it does still require an alternative format. Let’s dive into the specifics:
- The video does not require a way to pause, stop, or hide it, because it doesn’t play for longer than 5 seconds (so Success Criterion 2.2.2: Pause, Stop, Hide does not apply).
- The video does not require audio controls, because there is no audio (so Success Criterion 1.4.2 Audio Control does not apply).
- The video does not specifically require an audio description, because it is not synchronized with another media format (so Success Criterion 1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) does not apply).
- The video does require an alternative format under Success Criterion 1.2.1: Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded), which is a WCAG 2.1 A criterion. For this success criterion, it's sufficient to provide either a non time-based media version (such as a text description) or an audio track that describes the video.
For a short video that doesn’t require a lot of detail, one great option is to incorporate the video’s description as text into the page itself.
Another common strategy is to provide a clearly labeled link that takes users to the alternative version of the video. Providing a link is an especially useful strategy if you need a detailed description to fully convey the video’s information.
However you provide the video alternative, ensure that you clearly communicate to users where and how to access it.
For a helpful step-by-step checklist for reviewing content for WCAG conformance, check out the Guided Manual WCAG Audit Tool from Accessible Web.