Frequently Asked Questions


Media Player Accessibility

BBC is committed to making its broadcast and online services, including the Media Player, as accessible as possible. It has been built following the principles of inclusive design so all customers, regardless of disability, can enjoy BBC on demand and live content across desktop, tablet and mobile. This page outlines how customers can use the player and it’s accessibility features.

The Media Player is constantly evolving and with it so does the accessibility. Hearing feedback from you and other users is invaluable and really helps us better understand how to make iPlayer more usable so if you have any comments or questions let us know at

Subtitles, Audio Description and Signed Language

We aim to provide subtitles, audio description and programmes in British Sign Language for as much content as possible across as many devices as possible. This will vary according to the product (i.e. News, iPlayer, Sport etc.) and is also dependent of device support. Currently live content is not subtitled however we are working on changing this.

When subtitles are available look for the 'Subtitles' button in the player control bar to switch them on and off. Currently subtitles are offered on iPlayer catch up programmes but are not yet available for news clips or live content, we are working on this. When subtitles are switched on you can expect to see them at all time including when more information is presented at the bottom of the screen such as 'More episodes like this' or 'More news items like this'. Also, when available, you can expect to see different colours used for different speakers making it easier to follow conversation.

Audio description and BSL content can be accessed from links in the page outside the player when they are available. iPlayer has dedicated categories where you can find Audio Described and Signed content. iPlayer accessibility help provides more information around subtitles, audio description and signed content.


The Media Player is fully keyboard accessible allowing users to tab around the player controls both in page and in full screen. Use Enter to activate buttons or space bar when playing media in full screen. Use the arrow keys to increase or decrease the volume as well as forward and rewind the timeline. Buttons have clear highlighted states to support navigation regardless of whether you are using a mouse, keyboard or other means of input.

Screen readers

We have built in accessibility from the outset and will continue to make the Media Player progressively more accessible to screen reader users as it evolves. The accessibility of the player may however be affected due to changes in versions of the Flash Player, the browser or the screen reader. While some of these issues are within our control others may be down to Adobe Flash, the screen reader or browser vendor. We research, user test and carry out technical testing regularly in order to ensure accessibility continues to be maintained and that we are giving customers what they want.

Screen reader support

The Media Player is optimised to work with the following screen readers and browser combinations:

  • The latest two versions of IE, Firefox, Jaws and NVDA
  • The latest two versions of iOS VoiceOver

You should also be able to use earlier versions of all of the above as well as other screen readers such as Nokia Talks, WindowEyes, ZoomText and Supernova. 

The player will not work in Safari with OSX VoiceOver as VoiceOver does not support Flash, support for Flash in Google Chrome is also not there.

How to access the Media Player

To best access the player Jaws users should disable Virtual Cursor mode and NVDA users should enable focus mode. Keyboard commands are:

  • Tab- to move forward and backwards through the buttons
  • Shift + Tab- to move backwards through the buttons
  • Arrow keys  - to increase/decrease the volume and fast forward and rewind
  • Spacebaror Enter - to activate buttons 
  • Spacebar- to activate the full screen button
  • ESC- to exit full screen

Known issues

  • In full screen, using all versions of Jaws and IE8 as well as NVDA the names of the buttons are not read out. This is an issue with Jaws and IE8, and NVDA. The buttons can be easily be reached by triggering ESCAPE and accessing them via the player in page.


You can increase or decrease the size of the main player controls via the keyboard using:

  • Control + Shift + P to increase the size
  • Control + Shift + O to decrease the size

This is not a fully supported feature in the Standard Media Player but something we are currently exploring.