Case Study: A Leading Streaming Platform Improves User Accessibility
TPGi evaluated the performance of the streaming app on multiple standard devices. The tests revealed an uneven performance in multiple critical categories and a lack of inclusion when the app is used on certain devices. The client learned that:
- Promoting inclusivity will demand adaptation to ensure that all content is accessible.
- Promoting inclusivity will require curation of best practices surrounding inclusive streaming.
About the Streaming Service
The service is home to an extensive programming library from 14 different networks. Users access the channel through an app available on various devices. It is not available for gaming consoles, except the Xbox One.
Recent data reveals the prevalence of video-on-demand (VOD) and other streaming services among American consumers. As of 2021, nearly four in five U.S. consumers (78%) had a VOD subscription, a 50% increase over the last six years.
This case study focuses on a streaming service that offered some accessibility features, though these features were not uniformly accessible across all devices and game consoles.
TPGi began by focusing on two distinct user profiles:
- Katie, who is blind and uses on screen-reading software
- Bryan, who is deaf and uses subtitles to understand spoken information
Our team evaluated the accessibility options on the streaming service by looking at eleven different categories:
- Do controls have accessible names? (For instance, if a search button has an inaccessible name, a screen reader read will announce it just as a “button,” but if it has an accessible name, it will be referred to as a “search button”)
- Do controls have appropriate roles? (For example, links are marked with the role of “link” in the code. This allows a screen reader to announce all links accurately.)Does the streaming service support multiple input modes, such as a remote or a keyboard?
- Does the streaming service announce notifications?
- Does the streaming service offer focus management (meaning, is there a way to control which elements are focused on)?
- Do control groups have names (as in, will a screen reader announce that several elements are a group or is it only clear visually that they form a group)?
- Do groups announce the number of items?
- Does the text offer color contrast options?
- Does the service support zooming or resizing of the text?
- Does the service support both screen orientations?
- Do videos have closed captioning?
To evaluate these factors across multiple devices, TPGi tested the streaming service’s accessibility options on the following devices:
- Apple TV
- Android Phone
- Amazon Fire TV
- Samsung TV
For each device, the following tasks were performed, each of which represents an integral part of the user experience:
- Signing into the streaming service
- Exploring available content
- Selecting a show to watch
- Adding/removing shows from “My List”
- Watching the content
The results of the test varied between devices.
The Apple TV and Android phone fared poorly, with no accessible names given to key controls. The Samsung TV had the strongest performance, only lacking color contrast and the ability to resize the text. The Xbox performed highly as well, though it did not announce notifications audibly. TPGi also found videos without captions.
Overall, accessibility testing surfaced significant accessibility issues across the categories listed above. The consequence of this is that the streaming service was not completely accessible. This means that some parts of the service were hard or impossible to use for people with disabilities.
After highlighting these key issues, TPGi passed on this information to the streaming service. With their increased awareness, the streaming service could then work on remediation in-house. After some time had passed, TPGi retested the same user flows so the streaming service could learn what had improved and what accessibility issues still needed work.
In the future, the streaming service will develop a pool of tools and best practices around inclusive streaming that ensure that both “Kate” and “Bryan” have an equal ability to access digital content on the streaming platform.