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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot surelybwh's Avatar
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    Question about Screen Readers and websites with sound

    How do screen readers, such as JAWS, cope with websites that have sound - either music or talking - that plays automatically when the site opens. I'm thinking especially of those (irritating) sites that insist on playing music and do not provide an option to turn it off? Seems that would would make it hard to hear the screen reader. OR, are sites that do this considered inaccessible?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy DaveWoods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surelybwh View Post
    OR, are sites that do this considered inaccessible?
    Whilst I've not tested this, I think you've hit the nail on the head with that last comment and I'd personally say that it'd be completely inaccessible to someone using a screen reader unless there's something built into the screen reader which allows a person to switch off sound delivered by a site.

    IF something like this was required to provide extra information then I'd never have the sound as an auto play. A link that then provides the sound would probably be the best approach.

    I'd also consider some form of description where applicable to describe the sound to user with a hearing disability if it was spoken and provided information to anyone using the site.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot surelybwh's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    The inaccessibility issue was my whole point. Seems if it doesn't turn off, it would be an issue. Personally, unless it's a music related site, I don't think it should automatically play ANYTHING.

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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    If you offering an audio only file place a link to the file (mp3 or whatever) so the user can click it and listen to it in their own media player. Screen reader users (in fact all users!) then have the option to listen or not. Simple

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    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surelybwh View Post
    The inaccessibility issue was my whole point. Seems if it doesn't turn off, it would be an issue. Personally, unless it's a music related site, I don't think it should automatically play ANYTHING.
    Forget about the option to turn off music that's already playing - give me the option to turn it on in the first place! I'd rather listen to sounds that I want to, rather than have them forced upon me when I load the page.

    And then, and only then, should you give me the option to turn the sound off when I'm done listening.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot surelybwh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluedreamer View Post
    If you offering an audio only file place a link to the file (mp3 or whatever) so the user can click it and listen to it in their own media player. Screen reader users (in fact all users!) then have the option to listen or not. Simple
    That doesn't answer the question, though. I'm really interested in knowing if the music plays even with a screen reader. In other words, does the person using a reader have to listen to the music too? Could be an issue for sites that don't have an off button for the music. (Then again, perhaps visitors using a reader can do what I do and go somewhere else.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    Forget about the option to turn off music that's already playing - give me the option to turn it on in the first place! I'd rather listen to sounds that I want to, rather than have them forced upon me when I load the page.

    And then, and only then, should you give me the option to turn the sound off when I'm done listening.
    I totally agree. I do sort of make an exception for the music site. But I would prefer they all have the music off by default, and let the visitor decide to listen or not.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surelybwh View Post
    That doesn't answer the question, though. I'm really interested in knowing if the music plays even with a screen reader. In other words, does the person using a reader have to listen to the music too? Could be an issue for sites that don't have an off button for the music. (Then again, perhaps visitors using a reader can do what I do and go somewhere else.)

    I totally agree. I do sort of make an exception for the music site. But I would prefer they all have the music off by default, and let the visitor decide to listen or not.
    A screen reader won't necessarily detect the embedded sound device (and therefore the audio) to switch the sound on or off but it will still play - embedded sound has nothing to do with screen readers, it's the web page that loads and plays the sound not the screen reader. I've seen a screen reader user jump out of her skin when a really loud audio file started playing on a site she was visiting, not pleasant for her! If you have a simple text link to the file a screen reader will pick it up and offer the user a choice whether to listen or not.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot surelybwh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluedreamer View Post
    A screen reader won't necessarily detect the embedded sound device (and therefore the audio) to switch the sound on or off but it will still play - embedded sound has nothing to do with screen readers, it's the web page that loads and plays the sound not the screen reader. I've seen a screen reader user jump out of her skin when a really loud audio file started playing on a site she was visiting, not pleasant for her! If you have a simple text link to the file a screen reader will pick it up and offer the user a choice whether to listen or not.
    That is EXACTLY as I suspected. Thank you for that answer.

    I was actually wanting to make the point in my blog that automatic sound on a website would be an issue for someone using a screen reader. I suspected that it wouldn't be able to detect it.

    So, a website that has automatic sound is basically inaccessible to a person using a screen reader.

    Thanks, bluedreamer!

    P.S. I'm known to jump out of my skin when sound comes out of a website, and I'm not using a screen reader.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    No problem - I have jumped out my skin on occasions too for the same reason!


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