There is no reference to motion/video found in SC 1.4.3 — simple "images" and "background."

Do the color contrast requirements of SC 1.4.3 apply to text that is in a video and overlayed on top of video footage? My assumption is yes.

  • It's an interesting question, but really you need to consider the video / audio WCAG requirements themselves - w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/#media-equiv So, captions, transcriptions and alternative audio tracks. If you address those criteria then the 1.4.3 issue is likely redundant.
    – JonW
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:13
  • Thanks! I went down this train of thought as well, as the experience would be perceivable, operable, understandable…just as well. Our goal is to meet AA compliance, so the approach of passing one criterion in lieu of another doesn't seem like an option for our needs. Low vision users that may not require a screenreader, for example—would not have a perceivable experience. Wish there was an AfterEffects plugin akin to the Sketch/PS tools. Our video team would definitely be able to seamlessly use that in their workflow.
    – Ben Ramsey
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:37
  • It's not one criteria in lieu of another, the requirement for videos to be accessible is for them to have transcripts, alternative audio and closed captions. If you're putting in captions (which I assume is what you're referring to) then those need to be accessible captions for screenreaders. Those captions should be visually accessible, yes (e.g. white text on a black background) but will need to be separate to the video so WebVTT format files. Not just visually embedded into the video. Some documentation here
    – JonW
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:02
  • I'm following…but where I'm struggling to grasp is: The team will be providing closed captioning to conform to SC 1.2.2. However, there will still be large text on a moving video background that will not comply with SC 1.4.3. Does this make us non-compliant? Or do both criterion need to meet conformance?
    – Ben Ramsey
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


Since your question is specifically about contrast, I'll throw in my two cents:

The WCAG framework is meant to be a set of guidelines as to how to present web content. In terms of reaching compliance, there are very clear criteria (as @JonW points out), and since contrast in video content isn't covered by these, your presumably low-contrast video wont hinder you - but it will be obstructive to users with impaired vision.

Contrast is, as per your assumption, equally important to videos as it is to images and other content, so if we have the opportunity to create content that has accessible contrast levels, we should (and this is where I believe the guideline aspect of WCAG really shines).


In strict terms, no, as even though there may be something that looks like text in the video, it's treated as non-text content as a screen reader isn't able to access it. A video is, in simplified terms (grossly simplified in the digital age!), a series of still images flicked through like a flickbook animation. It would instead fall under 1.1.1 where you need a text alternative for the non-text content.

Personally, I'd still aim for colour contrast compliance because it makes the text in the video easier to read for sighted users. The content is meant to be consumed, and if the text has a good colour contrast against the background it's much easier for people to consume.

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