What’s new in Accessibility in Firefox 8.0

The newest update to Firefox has just been released to the public, and it’s that time again where we look at the user-facing and facing assistive technologies changes in this Firefox release. If not otherwise noted, these changes apply to Thunderbird as well, since it is built on the same platform.

First and foremost, the emphasis in this release was on performance and stability. We fixed a number of lingering crashes and inconsistencies on both Windows and Linux that may have impacted some users in Firefox 7. An example of this is inconsistent behavior when printing in Linux and using assistive technologies.

We fixed a bug that would sometimes cause iframe content not to be properly loaded into the virtual buffers of screen readers under Windows.

On Linux, access keys are now included in ATKAction information.

A state change event for elements having the “mixed” state (e. g. a tri-state checkbox) is now fired also for elements that aren’t in focus.

If you decide to opt into sending data to improve Firefox, we’ll be told if you have accessibility instanciated. This is most likely the case when you have a screen reader running, but may also be instanciated by some password entry assistants (like finger print scanners) or some anti-virus software, esp on Windows.

And once again the note that, due to a technical change introduced in Firefox 4.0, you have to make sure to load your screen reader before Firefox or Thunderbird, or virtual buffers may not work correctly. Also if you are one of those people running multiple screen readers, make sure to shut down Firefox and/or Thunderbird before shutting down one screen reader, and loading the other screen reader before restarting Firefox and/or Thunderbird. This is true for Firefox 4 onwards and also includes Firefox and Thunderbird 8.

Happy browsing!