Use YouTube with a screen reader

Use the tips on this page to get the best YouTube experience with a desktop screen reader. Note that keyboard shortcuts are automatically enabled when you use YouTube.

Search YouTube and Search results

Search for YouTube videos

  1. Go to www.youtube.com.
  2. Go to the search edit box at the top of the page by hitting the / keyboard key. 
  3. Type a search term and press Enter.

Search results

The search results page has a 'did you mean' section which suggests proper words if you misspelled any word(s). Each of the search results has the following information:

  • The title of the video – activating it will play the video. 
  • The name of the channel that posted the video.
  • How long ago the video was uploaded and how many times it has been viewed.
  • A snippet from the description of the video.

The YouTube Player

When you click on a video, you'll go to the YouTube video player. Here are the sections you'll use in the player:

Section headers

H1 for the title of a video

On the player

  • Seek slider: The seek slider is used to fast forward or rewind the video. To use the seek slider, first turn off virtual cursor then tab to the slider. Use the left/right or up/down arrow keys to fast forward/rewind the video.
  • Play/pause: The button text toggles based on the current status of the video. To replay the video, activate the 'play' or K button after the video stops playing.
  • Next: This button allows you to skip to the next video. If you do not have media buttons, you can also skip to the next video using Shift+N. 
  • Mute/unmute: This button toggles depending on whether the video is muted or not muted.
  • Volume slider: Use the left/right or up/down arrow keys to increase/decrease volume.
  • Time elapsed/total duration: This section shows the total time elapsed over the total duration of the video. It shows you how much of the video has played already and how much there's still left to play. 
  • CC (Subtitles): If a video has subtitles, you can activate them using the 'C' shortcut.   The subtitles appear at the bottom of the video. To disable subtitles, activate the 'C' shortcut again.

Settings 

This Settings button opens up a settings menu that allows you to make the following changes:

  • Autoplay: Toggle autoplay on or off.
  • Annotations: Toggle annotations on or off.
  • Speed: Choose the speed of the video, either normal or sped up or slowed down.
  • Subtitle: Toggle subtitles on or off. You can also choose the language of the subtitles here, or choose auto-translation.
  • Quality: Choose the pixel quality of the video that you are currently watching. The available resolutions are dependent on how the video was uploaded and your Internet speed. We recommend leaving this option on Auto so that the video quality is chosen based on your Internet speed.

Cinema mode

Activate the cinema mode icon to expand the player. Activate the icon again to go back to the original player size.

Full screen

Activating full screen icon maximises the player to the size of your screen and removes all of the content that is outside the player. Use the Escape button to exit full-screen mode.

The full screen icon is also useful for screen reader users who might want to get rid of all the extra elements in the HTML page around the player and be left just with the player on its own.
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