The wonderful thing about a Podcast is that you can play it on such a variety of devices at a place and time of your choosing. However, some people may prefer to listen on the web, which means they don't have to subscribe to the feed if they don't want to.
Accessible audio players are becoming more and more widespread as web browsers begin to support a technology called HTML5, which includes an Audio tag to tell the web browser to play sound. The latest versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari on iOS devices all work with this technology.
My ethos for designing a web player was to keep it as simple as possible. The majority of people already use an app or software on their computers to play media, so what I really wanted to provide was a quick and easy way for you to listen without learning anything else. My player contains the following components.
A Play/Pause button
This button starts or pauses the audio. There's no stop button. If you press play and the audio is so loud you can't hear your screen reader, you can press it again to pause it before turning the volume down if necessary. It has an access key of "p". On IE, alt+p takes you to the button. On Firefox, it's alt+shift+p.
The volume button is my compromise to having two separate controls for up and down. Pressing the volume button will lower the volume by one fifth, or 20%. This will keep happening until the volume can't go down by a further fifth, whereupon it will be put back up to full strength. It's not the most granular way of doing volume, but it should be useful enough just for playing in the browser. The access key for the volume is O.
Back and Forward
These buttons move audio back or forward by 30 seconds. Their shortcut keys are the left or right brackets (the ones next to the p).
The "In this Episode..." list
This is a list of "parts" to an episode. You can activate any of these to jump straight to that part of the show. If you're listening at the time, you'll be moved directly, or if you haven't yet started it, pressing play after choosing a point will start playback at the appropriate place. We believe this is a first in accessible Podcast playback and it is an experimental feature, but one which has gone down very well with our testers. Each of the parts have a numbered shortcut key, so for instance if you wanted to jump specifically to the audiobook preview of episode 1, you could use the access key 8.
Access Key Summary
Remember, access keys are alt in Internet Explorer and alt+shift in Firefox. Your screen reader may announce the keys for you in some instances. The keys I have chosen for the media controls are all usable with the right-hand -
- O for volume
- P for play pause
- [ (the left bracket) for moving back
- ] (and the right bracket) for moving forward.
This player is a minimalist player. It's nothing fancy but, should you wish to listen online, it should provide an effective way for you to do so. Remember that you are always welcome to access the Podcast Mp3 audio in whichever app, software or service you prefer. If you do have any comments, questions or suggestions though we'd be delighted to here them.