What accessibility features are available in BBC iPlayer?

Our commitment and feedback

BBC iPlayer is built so that all users can enjoy BBC on-demand and live content across desktop, tablet and mobile regardless of what access technology they might use or how they access content. We have built in accessibility from the outset and take feedback into account.

As is often the case, there are some known issues which we are working to address in order to continue to improve user experience. Some issues we are able to address fully ourselves while others are dependent on browsers, third-party media players, or access technology software which we are working with service partners to address.

Hearing feedback from you and other users is invaluable and really helps us better understand how to make BBC iPlayer more usable.  


Media player

The BBC’s standard media player is used by BBC iPlayer across desktop, mobile and tablet. It has been built with accessibility from the outset and offers clearer visual design for buttons, good contrast, and keyboard and mouse accessible tooltips. Work has also gone into improving subtitles as well as technical improvements to support screen reader users. Our Accessibility help playing audio and video content (including screen readers) page has more details about this and other accessibility improvements.


JavaScript

It is not possible to embed the media player in the page without the use of JavaScript; as such BBC iPlayer is exempt from the requirement for all core functionality to work without JavaScript.


Subtitles, sign language and audio description

All on-demand content is subtitled and can be accessed from within the media player once playback has started by selecting the speech bubble icon. You can toggle on/off subtitles, Audio Description and Signed (if available). You can choose the size of subtitles if using the BBC iPlayer website or TV app. You can read more about this here: How do I turn subtitles on or off?

We’re trialling subtitles on our live TV channel streams on the BBC iPlayer website (except on Internet Explorer) and our TV app. They're available on all channels apart from BBC Parliament, BBC Alba and S4C. We hope to roll out this functionality to the BBC iPlayer mobile/tablet apps in the future.

Sign language and audio described programmes can be found in the Signed and Audio Described categories accessed via the BBC iPlayer Categories menu. You can also search for your favourite programme and select the Sign Language or Audio Described toggle underneath the playback area. The speech bubble on the TV and mobile/tablet app will also show AD and Signed options.

Learn more about what devices support subtitles, sign language and audio described programmes in the following page: What devices support accessibility features?


Keyboard access

As a keyboard, keypad or non-mouse user you can expect to be able to navigate to and use all functionality within the site. As well as ensuring a logical content and focus order, we have added visible focus states so you can see where you are, as well as provided skip links.

All bbc.co.uk content has skip links at the start of the page to ‘Skip to main content’ and to go to ‘Accessibility help’. These links are visible when tabbed to for the benefit of any sighted user with a keypad or keyboard.

The media player also has two skip links: one to ‘Jump the media player’ and move keyboard/keypad focus to just after the player. The other is a link to ‘Screen Reader Help’. The second link contains information about accessibility features and how to access the player using screen readers.


Screen reader support

As a screen reader user you can expect to be able to navigate content using standard screen reader shortcuts for headings, links, landmarks, form fields etc. across desktop, tablet and mobile:

  • Headings: All pages have a single ‘heading level one’ before the start of the main content and ‘heading level two’ for sub-content. Aside from headings relevant to page content, each page also has the same framework of heading level twos for ‘Accessibility links’, ‘BBC Channels’, ‘iPlayer Navigation’, ‘Categories’, ‘Language and Location’ and ‘Help and Tools’.
     
  • Landmarks: Landmarks work in the same way as headings except they jump between parts of the page such as the main content, BBC and BBC iPlayer navigation and footer information. Each landmark has its own heading to help identify what it is.
     
  • Lists: All programme titles and episode information are presented in lists grouped under headings.
     
  • Alternatives for images: All images have an accessible alternative.

Further information, help and support can be found in our accessibility help pages.