[whatwg] Spec should require UAs to have control to mute/ pause audio/ video

Tab Atkins Jr. jackalmage at gmail.com
Tue May 12 21:19:21 PDT 2009

On Tue, May 12, 2009 at 2:07 PM, Erik Vorhes <erik at textivism.com> wrote:
> On Sat, May 9, 2009, at 2:16 PM, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
>> The issue is that not all browsers have significant configs (I'm
>> thinking of mobile browsers here), and I don't believe their inability
>> to provide such a choice to the user should make them nonconforming.
> If a UA is incapable of audio output, by extension it conforms to
> wording that uses MUST. (That is, it mutes audio by default, as it
> provides no means to play audio.) So I'm not sure this is an actual
> issue. In the illogical event that an audio-free UA wouldn't conform
> to this requirement, surely it's possible to word the specification in
> such a way that exempts those browsers from the requirement.

Sorry, I meant mobile browsers *with* audio but *without* significant
config dialogs.

>> As well, recall that the majority browser for 'unsophisticated' users
>> is still IE6 or 7, and IE8 still lacks any support for <video> at all
> What does the lack of support for <video> in IE 6-8 have to do with an
> argument against requiring UAs to mute audio in <audio> and <video>?
> Because those browsers exist without support for those elements, it
> falls upon developers, content producers, et al., to make a good-faith
> effort to provide accessible (and screenreader-friendly) content; the
> wording of the HTML5 spec doesn't change current conditions, nor
> should it be expected to.

Part of your argument against just making this a SHOULD was about
people not having the knowledge or ability to switch browsers, in the
event that their current browser doesn't provide them a way to
globally mute <audio>/<video>.  My point was that the vast majority of
such people are on one of the versions of Internet Explorer, as that
is the basic 'default' on Windows.  Given that IE, even up through
IE8, doesn't support  <audio>/<video> at all, let alone with special
consideration for accessibility, those people without the
knowledge/ability to switch browsers are pretty much stuck anyway, no
matter what the spec says.

Thus, it should be acceptable to push browser vendors to provide this
feature simple for accessibility purposes, and those users who *can*
switch their browsers will be able to switch to one that implements


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