Understanding Success Criterion 1.4.7: Low or No Background Audio

Success Criterion 1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio (Level AAA): For prerecorded audio-only content that (1) contains primarily speech in the foreground, (2) is not an audio CAPTCHA or audio logo, and (3) is not vocalization intended to be primarily musical expression such as singing or rapping, at least one of the following is true:

No Background

The audio does not contain background sounds.

Turn Off

The background sounds can be turned off.

20 dB

The background sounds are at least 20 decibels lower than the foreground speech content, with the exception of occasional sounds that last for only one or two seconds.

Per the definition of "decibel," background sound that meets this requirement will be approximately four times quieter than the foreground speech content.


The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that any non-speech sounds are low enough that a user who is hard of hearing can separate the speech from background sounds or other noise foreground speech content.

The value of 20 dB was chosen based on Large area assistive listening systems (ALS): Review and recommendations [[LAALS]] and In-the-ear measurements of interference in hearing aids from digital wireless telephones [[HEARING-AID-INT]]



Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.


Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Sufficient Techniques

  1. Mixing audio files so that non-speech sounds are at least 20 decibels lower than the speech audio content

Advisory Techniques

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.


The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of this Success Criterion by the WCAG Working Group.

Key Terms


a time-based presentation that contains only audio (no video and no interaction)


information that is not live