Auto-Playing Media and Multimedia

Building in Accessibility

Have you ever visited a website that start playing videos as soon as you go to the page? In some cases, depending on how the webpage was designed, browser and application settings can be changed to disable or limit auto-play.

Why is it important?

Automatically updating or playing content may pose problems for users with disabilities such as motion sensitivities, cognitive disabilities, and may also interferes with screen readers. Content that can create a barrier includes materials that automatically plays audio, moves, blinks, scrolls, or updates.  To make this content more accessible a key is to provide a method to pause, stop, hide, or control automatic content and provide notification of each automatic change of content.

Situations and solutions

  • Audio content that auto-plays for more than 3 seconds can interfere with screen reader users' ability to hear their screen readers.  To make it accessible, include controls to stop the content.  An example of auto-playing audio content is a YouTube video that plays when a page is opened.
  • Content that moves for more than 5 seconds can be distracting for some users and inhibit their ability to interact with other sections of page content.  To make it accessible, include controls to stop the content.  An example of auto-updating moving content is a counter ticking off the time until an event that updates every second.
  • A change notification is another way to make auto-updating or playing content accessible.  In this method, the user receives notification of that change and can correlate the change with equivalent programmatic or textual information.  An example of this is a counter that audibly notifies the user every time a donation is made.


Disabling auto-play is not always built into a platform, such as with some social media platforms, and not every browser or platform is created equally for disabling auto-playing multimedia. Explore different ways to disable or limit auto-play in your digital environment.

Turning Off Auto-Play by Browser or App

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft’s Edge browser allows you to limit video auto-play:

  1. In the upper right corner select the three dots and select Settings
  2. In the left-hand column, select Site Permissions, and then select Media auto-play

You may allow audio and video to play automatically or to limit it.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox also lets you limit auto-play.

  • In the upper right corner of the browser select the three dots and select Preferences
  • In the left-hand column, select Privacy & Security
  • Under the permissions heading Permissions and look for Auto-play and select the button marked Settings
  • Under the dropdown menu it will allow you to allow audio and video, block audio, or block audio and video. You may also specify which sites to block or allow


Safari allows you to disable auto-play and make exceptions to specific sites.

  • While in the app, on the top menu select Preferences
  • Select Websites on the top menu
  • Select Auto-play on the side menu
  • On the bottom right of the window select the drop-down and select Never Auto-play

You may also specify which sites to block or allow.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome does not allow you to turn off video auto-play. There was previously an experimental command-line flag that allowed you to turn them off by typing chrome://flags/ into Chrome’s address field.


If you’re using Facebook on your browser, you can turn off auto-play videos this way:

  1. On the top right of the page select the drop-down menu
  2. Select Settings & Privacy and then Settings.
  3. In the left hand menu, toggle off auto-playing videos in the Videos listing

Facebook has similar options available for its iOS and Android apps:

  1. On the bottom of the screen select the menu button. 
  2. Select Settings & Privacy and then Settings.
  3. Scroll down and select Media and Contacts, then select Videos and Photos.
  4. Disable Auto-play to turn off this feature
  1. On the top of the screen select the menu button.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy and then Settings.
  3. Scroll down and select Media and Contacts .
  4. Select Auto-play  and set to Never Auto-play Videos


  1. In the left hand menu select More and then Settings and privacy
  2. Select Data usage
  3. Select Auto-play  setting. and switch off auto-playing of videos
  1. Select the profile picture
  2. Select Settings and privacy
  3. Navigate to Data usage, select Video auto-play, and set to Never


The Instagram app doesn’t allow for auto-play videos to be turned off. Videos don’t auto-play if you use Instagram on your browser.

Last modified February 9, 2021