Is the Kaltura Player WCAG 2.0 Compliant?

Three professionals interacting with the Kaltura media player interface

The Kaltura player may be Section 508 compliant, but it has a quite a few accessibility problems that remain when auditing the player under WCAG 2.0 ‘AA’ compliance, making it difficult to use for people with visual or physical impairments.

The Kaltura Player is an open-source HTML5 based video player that is used by many organizations and universities to deliver video-based content. Its popularity stems from being able to customize the player to suit your organization and the built in advertising support, as well as being Section 508 compliant. While taking efforts to be Section 508 compliant is a large step forward in accessibility, this US law has been outdated for quite some time, causing problems in countries like Australia where it’s required for government websites to attain a WCAG level ‘AA’ compliance. So, does the Kaltura player stand up to level ‘AA’ compliance?

Before we investigate the problems with the player, it’s worth looking at what the player does well. The player natively supports closed captions and audio description tracks, allowing both the hearing and vision impaired to understand the content of the video. Unlike the extremely inaccessible flash player, the buttons on the Kaltura player were found to be keyboard accessible (although with some exceptions) and the player did not trigger any keyboard navigation traps. The player also appears to have labels for the buttons, allowing screen readers to announce each button that is focused.

The player is not without its accessibility faults. The robustness of Kaltura’s code is put into question as the player reacts very differently depending on what operating system, internet browser and assistive technology is being used. To test the accessibility of the player, we’ve used NVDA on Windows, VoiceOver screen reader on Mac OS X, and TalkBack screen reader on Android.

Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome with NVDA operate the worst out the bunch and have very similar problems. The major issue with the Kaltura player in these browsers is that button labels are announced by NVDA when navigating away from the button, causing major confusion for the screen reader user. Firefox and Chrome also cannot access the hidden increase volume/decrease volume buttons in the player, unlike Internet Explorer and Safari, which can. When navigating by reading order, all screen readers will navigate in an irregular order, sometimes travelling right to left. Some buttons can also be found to not always announce their labels, or announce the button labels in a non-useful way, depending on the browser and screen reader used.

While it may be true that the Kaltura player is Section 508 compliant, this does not mean that the Kaltura player is suitable to pass WCAG 2.0 ‘AA’ standard in Australia or other countries. When considering using Kaltura as your video player, you need to be aware of these accessibility implications. Section 508 is in the process of a major update, and we hope to see that the law will bring accessibility standards to a level where they should be.