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Demand More! How accessible are the “on demand” services?


Like myself, many of you probably use streaming websites and services over the Internet to listen to music, read or listen to books, and to watch TV. With this is mind, I thought I’d test some of the biggest websites to see whether they worked with the VoiceOver application on a Mac computer, and rate how accessible they are in terms of graphic design as well. 


I use YouTube constantly, either to listen to music or to watch old episodes of TV that people upload there – there’s a lot of archive TV if you look for it, which is really cool! I mostly use it for music. I’ve always found YouTube very easy to use because there’s a search bar at the top of the screen to type into and then you just scroll through the results to find the video you want to view. In terms of graphic design, I find the website very easy to navigate. It is fully accessible with the VoiceOver feature on a Mac and is overall a brilliant website. 


VEVO is a website not dissimilar to YouTube, however, it is purely for music and, as far as I know, you cannot post videos to Vevo yourself, although you can comment on existing videos. Vevo is better for finding up-and-coming or more obscure artists and bands. Vevo is my favourite of all the websites I am mentioning. Much like, YouTube, the website is very easy to navigate and has similar simple bold graphics, which are easy to use. It is fully accessible with VoiceOver – the only thing I’d say about these first two sites is that VoiceOver can be a little distracting when you’re listening to music so you may want to turn it off once you’ve found the video you want! 


This is a website where you can listen to audiobooks for a certain amount of money each month (you get a free trial of a month but remember to cancel your debit card details if you only want the free trial). I find this website quite easy to use, the graphics are bold, fun sand colourful and they are easy to use. The layout of the site is good and it is compatible with VoiceOver. I haven’t’ actually made use of this website myself as I prefer to download my audiobooks one at a time on iTunes, but if you use audiobooks a lot, then this could be a great resource. 


Netflix is the same premise as audible, the only difference being that instead of paying for audiobooks, you pay for TV shows from just £5.99 a month. There is also a free trial on the site, but you have to cancel your details at the end of the month if this is the only time you want to use the site. It is harder to use than the other websites and not as easy to navigate than YouTube or Vevo. However, it is compatible with VoiceOver software and is a good website to use to watch a lot of good TV on! I don’t use it myself as I prefer to use the On Demand websites for TV. 

4OD, BBC iPlayer and itv Player 

These websites are catch-up services for any TV that you might have missed during the week. I use these websites to access television while I am away at University, and find them all very easy to use. You can either scroll through your options on the screen, which VoiceOver will read out to you, or VoiceOver will read out letters as you type  into the search box to find what you want to watch. The graphics on all three websites are easy to see and/or navigate around, and there is a lot of catch-up TV and on 4OD there’s archive TV too which is a lot of fun to watch. 

Demand 5 

I’ve never found Channel 5’s catch up service as easy to use as the others. THe page layout is more cluttered and there are far more programmes on one page than on the other channels’ pages. VoiceOver does work with this website as well as the others, but because of the graphic design and the look of the whole website, I’ve always found it a bit harder to use. Also, the videos never seem to play as well on it which is really annoying. This might be just my thoughts though, so give it a go and see what you think! 

So there you have it – my guide to the accessibility of streaming websites for visually impaired people. Let em know how you access streaming websites in the comments below, and until next week, have fun! 

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