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Autoplay is disabled

Autoplay is where a video is set to start playing as soon as the web page loads — it’s best to avoid this.

See the latest guidance on avoiding setting videos to autoplay

This page is currently out of date — for the latest guidance on this topic, see Autoplay is disabled — NZ Government.

Videos should not autoplay

Generally, we recommend that videos not play automatically.

Fortunately, embedded video players from YouTube or Vimeo do not play automatically by default. And browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari now usually block videos from playing automatically, even if the video itself is set to autoplay.

How autoplay reduces accessibility

Some people can find a video clip that starts automatically to be so distracting that it prevents them from being able to focus on anything else on the page or to listen to their screen reader.

Unexpected video or audio can be disruptive for people:

  • with cognitive impairments, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — because it can impede their ability to concentrate on reading the content that they’re actually interested in
  • with vestibular and seizure disorders, like photosensitive epilepsy — because it can cause a seizure
  • using text-to-speech software — because it can obscure the speech of the screen reader.

How to disable autoplay

In most cases, you do not need to do anything to prevent videos from playing automatically.

This is because:

  • generally, YouTube and Vimeo videos embedded in < iframe >s do not play automatically by default
  • videos embedded using the HTML < video > element also do not play automatically by default.

However, there are some situations where YouTube or Vimeo videos could start playing automatically, depending on things like the user’s media viewing habits or browser settings.

If you want to be sure that a video will not play automatically for:

  • YouTube or Vimeo videos embedded in an < iframe > — add autoplay=0  to the URL assigned to the src attribute
  • videos embedded using the < video > element — make sure that the autoplay attribute is not present.
Example of a video embedded in an < iframe >

< iframe src="" title="YouTube video: An explanation of what human rights are — presented in New Zealand sign Language" width="300" height="150" allowfullscreen >

Setting the autoplay parameter to 0 ensures that the video will not play automatically when the page loads.

Example of a video embedded using the < video > element

< video src="video.vid" controls width="300" height="150" >

No autoplay attribute is present.

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When a video does not play automatically, it meets the following WCAG Success Criteria:

If a video is set to autoplay

If a video is set to play automatically, you must provide the user with the option to stop it if the clip:

  • plays any audio for more than 3 seconds
  • contains moving, blinking or scrolling information that lasts for more than 5 seconds.

How to enable controls to pause or stop the video

Controls for videos embedded in an < iframe >

By default, YouTube and Vimeo videos include controls for pausing or stopping the video.

Other video players might behave differently, so it’s important to check that they provide such controls.

Controls for videos embedded using the HTML < video > element

If you haven't created your own controls for the HTML < video > element, make sure that the controls attribute is present. This tells the browser to provide controls for things like starting and stopping the video.

Example of controls for a video embedded using the < video > element

< video src="video.vid" autoplay controls width="300" height="150" >

The presence of the autoplay attribute tells the browser to automatically start playing the video when the page is loaded. As noted above, it’s recommended that you do not use the autoplay attribute.

The presence of the controls attribute ensures that users will have an easy way to stop and start the video.

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

If a video is set to play automatically and controls are provided to pause or stop the video, it meets the same WCAG Success Criteria as a video that is set not to play automatically:

However, to prevent a negative experience for some users, as described above, it’s best not to set your video to play automatically.

Testing that controls exist to pause or stop the video

If you need to set your video to play automatically, check that:

  • the video player has controls to pause or stop the video
  • the controls to pause or stop the video work for people operating it using a mouse, a keyboard, or touch.

More information

Read more about accessibility issues with media that plays automatically.

F93: Failure of Success Criterion 1.4.2 for absence of a way to pause or stop an HTML5 media element that autoplays — W3C

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