Thursday, June 13, 2013

Accessible Mozilla: Tech overview of Firefox 23

Here's a list of core accessibility improvements in oncoming Firefox 23 (will be available as beta 24 June).


A non standard extension of ARIA was introduced. Now Firefox recognize a "key" ARIA role which is mapped to push button role on IAccessible2/ATK layer. It is supposed to be used for on-screen keyboards and dialpads. AT can use  xml-roles object attribute to pick up that role.


* A major change of this release is we don't longer create a flat hierarchy for HTML selects (see bug). Say you have a HTML select having optgroup elements like

    <optgroup label="group">

then we used to have an accessible hierarchy like:

  combobox - HTML select
   option - HTML option (item)
   heading - HTML optgroup
   option- HTML option (subitem)

Firefox 23 exposes the following hierarchy:

  combobox - HTML select
   option - HTML option (item)
   grouping - HTML optgroup
     option - HTML option (subitem)

* Another change is HTML5 input@type=range is now accessible. It's exposed as a slider role and implements the value interface, i.e. you can obtain min, max and current values and step. Also it fires value change events.

Nasty bugs

A bug where JAWS lost the virtual buffer was fixed. The patch was back ported to Firefox 22 and Firefox 21.

Another bug was that we lost inactive document occasionally. So if the user didn't interact with the document and the document wasn't self updated via JavaScript then it could be not accessible for screen readers (see bug).

ISimpleDOM support

Yet another ISimpleDOM interface (ISimpleDOMText) was tear offed as continuation of this work.

Other bug fixes

* A selection bug where we wrongly claimed that unfocused text area has a selection was fixed.

* We don't prune children anymore for number of roles like text entry, menu items and etc if they have complex trees. In other words, if for example a text entry has anything else than a plain text then you will see that in hierarchy (see bug). So if you do

  <div role="textbox"><span role="button"></span></div>

then you will get a button inside the text entry.

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