Would you like to show us what assistive technology you use Firefox with?

For a while now, Firefox has had the ability to collect anonymous usage data. Internally, we call this telemetry.

Recently, we also started to incorporate statistics about the way the accessibility features of Firefox are being used.

Our newest addition to this feature is the collection of data about which screen reader is being used with Firefox on Windows. For Linux, there is only one screen reader that’s widely used really, so we primarily concentrated on Windows, since there are a variety of screen readers and screen magnifiers out there that Firefox is being used with.

So, to get a better idea about what our user base is using Firefox with, we’d like to call out for assistance in gathering this data! Let me stress once more that this is purely voluntary, but that this will help us improve our over-all support even more focused once we know better what assistive technologies are the most used. Moreover, this is anonymous data, so there is no way we can link a particular screen reader to a particular user. Which assistive technology you use is and stays your private matter. You’ll only be contributing to an over-all picture of usage statistics.

So how do you turn this on? In Firefox:

  1. go to Tools/Options.
  2. With the arrow keys, navigate to the list item called “Advanced”.
  3. Tab once to set focus to the tab page selection.
  4. Select the “General” tab using the left and right arrow keys.
  5. Tab through the dialog until you reach a check box called “Send performance data”. Note, instead, you can also press Shift+Tab a couple of times to get there faster, since this is the very last checkbox before the “OK” button.
  6. Press Space to check it if it is unchecked.
  7. Tab once to get to the “OK” button and press Space to close the dialog and save your changes.

Firefox will now send anonymous usage data to us and inform us about any relevant performance like memory usage, screen reader in use (if any), or whether accessibility is instanciated at all.

Note that part of this feature is currently only in the Nightly development builds of Firefox. If you use a regular release like Firefox 9.0.1, this checkbox will not have any effect for screen reader usage data yet. But for other data such as the memory consumption, you can still enable it. Once you get upgraded to Firefox 12 in 3-4 months, you’ll start sending us data about your screen reader usage automatically.

If you’re on the Aurora channel, you’ll get this feature with the next big uplift that will happen early February.

To all who enable this feature, thank you! Your helping us improve Firefox even more is appreciated!

And to those of you who do not wish to send us your anonymous information, that’s perfectly fine, too! No grudges will be held against you. :-)

6 comments:

  1. I thought it was going to be something more involved. I realise I am doing nothing any more special than all the other millions of people who have the same box checked. I thought accessibility data was being provided already since I updated to 11.0a2 but now I know it will begin with 12.0a2 I will definitely remain opted-in.

  2. By the way, the crash reports check box immediately before that one still unchecks itself every time I check it and close the dialogue.

  3. Dear Marco

    Firefox is loading very slowly with assistive technology. That is why I avoided firefox but I am determined to get used to using it again. Though I am aware that this comment is a bit off-topic, I very kindly ask you to address this issue in another blog post. Of course, I am on-board for sending accessibility data to mozilla!

  4. Mimi, I believe what you’ve experienced in the past was a problem of general startup slowness which we addressed in recent months. I encourage you to give either the current release or even current beta or aurora builds a try and see if the situation improved.

  5. There is no magic involved here other than standard Windows module injection stuff. Screen readers have to inject a piece of themselves into the browser’s process to get all the information they need in a timely manner. For more information about why this is needed, see this post on the NVDA blog: http://www.nvda-project.org/blog/First_Work_on_Web_Access_Grant

    This injection to gain as much as 12 times more speed when retrieving web content, in turn, allows us to see which screen reader is currently causing our accessibility module to be turned on. We know the names of all the screen readers that inject themselves, so can gather this information reliably.

What are your thoughts?