Is the New Vimeo HTML5 Player Accessible?

We were excited to learn that Vimeo has released a new version of Vimeo Player.  This version is based on HTML5 and has added new accessibility features that improve the video experience for people with disabilities.  The new Vimeo player is also now responsive, making it easy to use on various platforms such as smartphones, tablets and devices that support multiple interactions methods such as touch, mouse and pen.

We commend Vimeo on these changes and were pleased to see that the player is more accessible than the Flash version.  The videos can now be captioned in several languages for users who are hard of hearing or deaf.  The player works with the keyboard.  Users who are using a screen reader such as JAWS or VoiceOver can navigate to and operate the controls.

Like with any product, some things could be improve to make the player more accessible and easier to use for people with disabilities.

  1. The player controls disappear to the "dummy content area" a few seconds after the video starts playing. They will appear again when a mouse hovers over the player window. This behavior is not available with a keyboard.  When the controls disappear, users who rely only on the keyboard will not be able to access them until they reappear at the end or beginning of the video.
  2. The Closed Captions (CC) component opens a menu of options.  The control is keyboard accessible but may be confusing to users who cannot see the screen.  The closed captioning button does not indicate that there is a list to choose from and the current selection is only indicated visually.  A screen reader user may not know how to select an option from the list and will not know which item is currently selected.
  3. The user has the option to lower the volume but there is no option to mute. Screen reader users will occasionally want to mute the volume so that they can hear the screen reader.

Overall, Vimeo did a great job with the new HTML5 player. We look forward to seeing how the player evolves and Vimeo implements additional accessibility features.

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