How accessible are embedded movies?

Today I have been wrestling with embedding a movie into a web page. To try and ensure cross browser, and cross platform, usability I have had to use the <embed> inside an <object> On an XHTML 1.0 Strict page, this was a fairly major decision, and was only taken after careful consideration of all the alternatives.

I ended up using the following code:

<a href="sample.mpg">Download movie via a link</a>
<object id="mediaPlayer" height="284" width="320"
standby="Loading Microsoft Windows Media Player components...">
<param name="fileName" value="sample.mpg" />
<param name="animationatStart" value="true" />
<param name="transparentatStart" value="true" />
<param name="autoStart" value="true" />
<param name="showControls" value="true" />
<embed height="284" width="320" align="left"
src="sample.mpg" autoplay="true" controller="true">

Although there may be other methods available, to ensure the cross browser and cross platform usability I was trying to achieve, this seemed the best method. Although I could have gone straight for a simple <embed> it seemed wise to at least try and use the <object>

It should be noted that Safari on the Mac does not show any alternative text, yet Firefox on the PC showed not just the <embed> movie, but the alternative text as well. So again I had to remove that, against my better instincts.

But just how accessible are movies when embedded in a page? Likewise, how accessible are the media players themselves? On trying to tab to the embedded movie I realised that it was inaccessible. Even the so called keyboard commands that Windows Media Player say are usable did not work.

WAI guidelines also state that captioning should be used, but when the player itself is inaccessible…

I would be interested to hear if anyone has found a standards compliant, cross browser cross platform method of embedding a movie. Also if anyone has done any user testing in this area.

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5 Responses to How accessible are embedded movies?

  1. Pingback: Spider Trax » How accessible are embeded movies?

  2. zcorpan says:

    IE has support for EMBED, so what’s the benefit of using the OBJECT? Your OBJECT abuses the classid and codebase attributes to trigger the ActiveX in IE, and the type attribute doesn’t represent the MIME type of the file (which probably is video/mpeg). There’s also no data attribute pointing to the file. Just because it validates doesn’t mean it is compliant.

    I think it should look something like this:

    <p><object type=”video/mpeg” data=”sample.mpg” width=”320″ height=”284″></object></p>


    <p><embed type=”video/mpeg” src=”sample.mpg” width=”320″ height=”284″></p>

    In text/html, EMBED is always an empty element and has no end tag. At least in IE, Firefox and Opera.

  3. Rich says:

    I am not an expert at ’embedding’ stuff, so thanks for correcting me.

    However it should also be noted that <embed> is not part of the XHTML specification and will prevent your page from validating.

    So ideally I would like to remove that portion of it altogether!

  4. Brent says:

    I am having the same problem as well. I’ve got a little file that plays on a clients website. It works, sure…but not having it validate bothers the living whatever out of me. My client’s last developer used the bgsound tag; hitting roughly 47% of the world’s internet users. I mentioned that we could do the flash get up and hit roughly 97% of the world’s internet users. He agreed. But how can a developer go to sleep and not have the code validate? I’ll be checking back often to see if there’s a reply to this with a satisfactory answer.


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