New in accessibility in Firefox 10

Firefox 10 has just been released. Here is a recap of the things that were fixed in accessibility for this release.

First and foremost, we managed to fix a whole range of bugs related to focus reporting. For more details, please read this post.

In Linux, the caret position is now correctly updated again when using atk_text_set_caret_offset is used.

Accessibility now supports the list attribute on inputs and the datalist element of HTML5. An indication is given that this input supports autocompletion and that it has a list. Pressing DownArrow will put you in a list of choices, enter will allow you to accept the selected item and put it in the entry.

Info about the map tag is now being reported correctly.

The feature to read highlighted text via the Mac OS X speech feature under the “Edit” menu has been fixed to work properly in Lion. This also applies to Thunderbird where this issue was first reported to us.

Telemetry has been updated to report the use of the iSimpleDOM interface by assistive technologies. It also now reports if depricated IAccessible2 methods are still being used by any AT out there. For more information on what telemetry is and how we use it, please read my post on this subject.

If a table has the datatable attribute’s value set to “0”, we now always treat it as a layout table and set the object attribute for the table accessible accordingly. The algorithm to determine whether something is a layout table has been enhanced so that it no longer picks up data table elements from nested tables.

We fixed a few issues having to do with accessibleRelation exposure for select elements that are nested inside labels, and with xul:tree elements and their children.

All in all, we almost reached the 50 fixed bugs mark in this cycle in the Accessibility APIs component alone. Congrats to the whole team and all external contributors who also helped with a number of these!

Accessibility on the Mac: Progress report Jan 30, 2012

After my blog post about the accessibility of Firefox on Mac OS X ramping up stirred up so much interest (thanks again to everyone who commented!), I thought you’d like to hear a bit about the progress we’ve made since then.

When I wrote the original blog post, what we had was very basic content rendering to VoiceOver or Accessibility Verifier. And I mean really basic. We had just crossed the point where loading a second page, or opening a new tab, would actually tell VoiceOver what content there was. Previously, it would not even take notice of the new content and still show the old stuff. Also, the web area was just now then being announced as “HTML content” by VoiceOver, like in Safari.

Since then Hub:

Pretty amazing, eh?

Of course, there are still quite a number of things left to do. To name a few:

As you can see, we still have quite some work ahead of us, and we’ll undoubtedly find more along the way, and with your help once I announce a build that has less known bugs than this above list. 😉

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. 🙂