Success Criterion 1.4.2: Audio Control

Understanding Success Criterion: 

If any audio on a Web page plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, either a mechanism is available to pause or stop the audio, or a mechanism is available to control audio volume independently from the overall system volume level.
Note: Since any content that does not meet this success criterion can interfere with a user's ability to use the whole page, all content on the Web page (whether or not it is used to meet other success criteria) must meet this success criterion. See Conformance Requirement 5: Non-Interference.

Accessibility Level: 
A
Intent of Success Criterion: 

Individuals who use screen reading software can find it hard to hear the speech output if there is other audio playing at the same time. This difficulty is exacerbated when the screen reader's speech output is software based (as most are today) and is controlled via the same volume control as the sound. Therefore, it is important that the user be able to turn off the background sound. Note: Having control of the volume includes being able to reduce its volume to zero.
Note: Playing audio automatically when landing on a page may affect a screen reader user's ability to find the mechanism to stop it because they navigate by listening and automatically started sounds might interfere with that navigation. Therefore, we discourage the practice of automatically starting sounds (especially if they last more than 3 seconds), and encourage that the sound be started by an action initiated by the user after they reach the page, rather than requiring that the sound be stopped by an action of the user after they land on the page.
See also Understanding Success Criterion 1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio.

Specific Benefits of Success Criterion: 
  • Individuals who use screen reading technologies can hear the screen reader without other sounds playing. This is especially important for those who are hard of hearing and for those whose screen readers use the system volume (so they cannot turn sound down and screen reader up).
  • This Success Criterion also benefits people who have difficulty focusing on visual content (including text) when audio is playing.