Initial VoiceOver support now in Firefox nightly builds for Mac OS X

Yes, many of you have been waiting for this to happen, and now it’s finally there! From the April 30, 2012 Nightly build onwards, Firefox for the Mac comes with VoiceOver support turned on by default. All you have to do is turn on VoiceOver, or launch Firefox Nightly from Finder or LaunchPad with VoiceOver already running. No extra switches or other steps need to be performed.

This is a raw diamond that still needs quite some love before we can call it fit for wide-spread use by customers. But if you like to play with early development software, want to provide feedback or just get a glimpse at what’s hot and new, feel free to download the latest nightly build for the Mac. I do not recommend using this as your default browser just yet!

Known issues

Here are some known issues we need to address:

Performance
That’s our biggie at the moment. Compared to Safari, we’re still very slow and unresponsive. Navigating via the VoiceOver commands takes longer, and when a page initially loads, you’ll hear VoiceOver often say “Nightly busy” before you can actually do something.
Firefox does not yet notify VoiceOver when a page finishes loading.
This has been known, and we’re working on it to address the issue as soon as possible. We think we are sending the right notification, but VoiceOver does not pick it up. Once a new page loads, and you start navigating, VoiceOver correctly sees the new content, though, so you are able to surf to more than one page within a session.
All controls within a multi-tab XUL dialog is visible.
Within Preferences and other dialogs, VoiceOver sees all the content of all the tab pages, even those that are currently hidden. This makes navigating this type of dialog a bit cumbersome for now.
Some control states not correctly reported.
The initial control states of check boxes in XUL dialogs is not yet reported correctly. The initial question whether Nightly should be used as your default browser, for example, speaks an unchecked checkbox, when it is actually checked. We are aware of the issue.

How to install

You install the app by opening the downloaded DMG, focusing “Firefox Nightly.app” and copying and pasting it into your Applications folder, like you do with any other app. Sighted users can, of course, do their usual drag and drop from the DMG to the Applications folder. You then launch it like any other app.

Providing feedback

Beat it, hammer on it, install your favorite extensions into it that you might know from the Windows or Linux worlds, for example the WebVisum extension, surf to your favorite web sites and do the stuff you’d normally do. But expect a lot of things to not work yet as you would expect them to! Like I said: This is a raw diamond still.

To provide feedback, either comment to this blog post, and I will triage and file bugs as appropriate. Or if you’re familiar with our bug tracking system, feel free to file a bug yourself. If you use this link, things like platform, component and product are already preset for you correctly.

If you’re not a VoiceOver user, we still want to hear from you! Our goal is that you should not notice a difference in daily browsing and working with everything you work with usually. If there are changes that aren’t explicable, please provide us with that feedback, too!

This is my first real new platform accessibility roll-out, and I’m excited as hell about what’s to come from you all over the next couple of weeks!