Ensure the audio is labeled, the user can control playback, and there are alternatives for users who cannot hear the audio or need more time to process the information.
Include a label that describes the audio. [WCAG 1.1.1 - A]
audioelement's native controls by default. [WCAG 2.1.1 - A]
Include a transcript. [WCAG 1.2.1 - A]
Ensure users can disable any audio that starts automatically or turn off its volume. [WCAG 1.4.2 - A]
Ensure that any recording of speech has low or no background noise. [WCAG 1.4.7 - AAA]
When including audio clips, ensure that the native user agent controls are enabled by default (i.e.,
by setting the
controls attribute on the
audio element). This practice
ensures that the controls are accessible even if scripting is not available. If you define your own
that do not support scripting.
Providing a label for audio clips ensures that users can understand the purpose of the video before choosing whether to listen to it. Users with high bandwidth costs, for example, can save both time and money by not having to download clips they are not interested in.
In terms of providing alternatives, WCAG requires "media alternatives" for audio content. These are like transcripts but cannot be only a simple listing of the spoken dialogue. The alternative must also describe any important non-verbal sounds.
audio element allows child content for fallback purposes, such content is
not intended to serve as an accessible alternative. The user agent only makes this content
available to the user if it does not support the
audio element (e.g., in EPUB 2 user
It is also important to consider that users need to be able to hear the audio produced by their assistive technologies (e.g., a screen reader). Playing audio automatically interferes with their ability to hear the text, for example, so unless the audio clip only plays for three seconds or less, the user must be able to disable playback or mute the volume without also muting their assistive technology (i.e., the system audio control is not sufficient to meet this requirement as it will raise and lower all audio in synchronicity).