Assistive Technology Browser Combinations

From Level Access Web Labs
Revision as of 16:21, 27 August 2018 by Rmccaffery (talk | contribs)
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Browser/AT Internet Explorer Firefox Safari Chrome Edge
JAWS Primarily recommended when end product will be used by US Federal gov Recommended n/a Supports with exception Limited support †
NVDA Supports with exception Recommended n/a Supports with exception Limited support
VoiceOver (Mac) n/a Supports with exception Recommended Limited support n/a
Narrator Limited support (Windows 7)
Supports with exception (Windows 8.1+)
n/a n/a Limited support Supports with exceptions
VoiceOver iOS n/a Supports with exception (Shell for Safari) Recommended Supports with exception (Shell for Safari) n/a
TalkBack Android n/a Supports with exceptions n/a Recommended n/a
ChromeVox n/a n/a n/a Supports with exceptions n/a
Dragon Recommended Supports N/a Supports with exceptions Does not support
ZoomText Recommended supports N/a Supports with exceptions Does not support

† Freedom Scientific's What's New in JAWS 2018 Screen Reading Software page claims that when JAWS 2018 is used with Edge on Windows 10 Creators update (version 1703) or later, it provides a level of support something like "Supports with exceptions". We have not independently confirmed that this combination meets that level of support yet (April 2018).

Caveats and Notes:

  • The above are Level Access's recommendations, but the customer's needs take precedence. If a customer requires Level to test other, not-recommended versions, make sure the client understands and acknowledges the risks of doing so, and consider suggesting that they have Level test both so as to better identify the risk.
  • Visual keyboard focus may be different in Firefox and IE due to various CSS properties, and so visible focus should be tested in both browsers. Clearly identify where the problem does and does not occur (which browser, which controls) in AMP entries.
  • Keyboard traps may also occur in one browser but not another, and is another test that should be performed in both browsers. Testing should focus on highly-scripted components, "overly-aggressive" scripting, embedded content, and such.
  • Difference in Dragon for IE value fields where onchange isn't updated when voice.
  • Mobile Safari does not fire keyboard events except in input textarea.
    • As of iOS 11.2.x the Tab key on the keyboard can be used to tab to interactive elements -- although sometimes there is a bug that may prevent this from occuring.
  • do not use Firefox 57 on windows with JAWS or NVDA
  • On Android, Firefox versions prior to 47 should not be used for TalkBack testing. This is due to TalkBack being unable to activate links in Firefox versions 43 through 46.
  • WebAIM has a voluntary screen reader survey found at the following URL:
  • Browser usage among the general population can be dramatically different than usage by uses of Assistive Technology, a critical factor many people may fail to take into account. For instance, contrast one recent set of general population browser statistics with the last WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey 6.
  • For comparing testing results and considering which device/OS combinations to test with, Jon has assembled testing results for
  • Media players may be implemented differently across browser especially when a standard video or audio element is used because browser's implement these element different.
  • IE does not implement the dialog element and some HTML5 input elements
  • Browser may implement HTML 5 input elements like range, spinner, color picker, data picker, etc. differently
  • IE and Firefox are the only browsers that support Flash and Java accessibility
    • Flash and Java Accessibility is not supported on MacOS although some Java Accessibility may come through on MacOS through the MacOS accessibility API
  • Chrome and Safari do not place iframes in the focus order like IE and Firefox does
  • Shadow DOM is primarily supported in Chrome and may not be supported in other browsers and will never be supported in IE.
  • Check to see what browser support is for different elements

Mobile Related Items

Mobile Browser support for ARIA roles, states, and properties.


Generally speaking, the version of the OS (desktop or mobile) is either nearly irrelevant or of less importance than the versions of the AT and of the browser. However, in some cases at the older and newer ends of version history, the OS can make a difference in accessibility support. Older versions may lack complete accessibility support, and when a major new OS release comes out, ATs may need time and upgrades before it is fully compatible with the new OS. And of course for iOS, the versions of VoiceOver and Safari are not separate from the OS version, meaning there is no distinction at all.

Windows 7, 8, 10

  • Anything to note here? Any known dependencies/limitations?

Android OS

  • Here are two excellent resources for understanding Android OS version usage statistics and history. Data tends to be acquired by visits to the Google Play store, possibly other methods.
  • As of 2/5/2018 (per Developer Dashboard page linked above), those available Android OS usage statistics indicate that:
    • OS 8.x (Oreo) is used on a mere 1.1% of Android devices
    • OS 7.x (Nougat) is used on about 28.5% of Android devices
    • OS 6.x (Marshmallow) 28.1%
    • OS 5.x (Lollipop) 24.6%
    • OS 4.4.x (KitKat) 12.0%
    • OS versions older than 4.4/KitKat are used on 5.7% of Android devices
  • According to the Android Version History wiki page linked above, as of April 2, 2018, all versions prior to 6.0 are Unsupported, leaving 6.0.x/Marshmallow as the minimum version supported.
  • Fingerprint Authentication support was added in OS 7.0, and requires supporting hardware such as found on Nexus 5X and 6P.
  • Android OS version 4.0 through 4.4.x gradually added support for TalkBack and other accessibility features, while 5.0 added support for Switch Control.
  • Different brands and models of Android devices come with different combinations of browsers and screen readers. Likely all come with Chrome, but some Samsung Galaxy models may come with the Chromium-based, slightly-customized Samsung Internet Browser (which may be the default in such models, can this be confirmed?). Similarly, some devices may come with the Voice Assistant screen reader instead of, or in addition to, TalkBack. (Also need details here.)


On iOS the Safari browser is used with VoiceOver. The latest version of iOS should be used as it is a free upgrade and most users upgrade when a new version of the OS is released. There are some focus issues for example, when a value is selected in a combo box, the focus does not remain on the combo box. Other accessibility issues are noted on the IOS Accessibility Issues page


VoiceOver is the Apple's built-in screen reader on both iOS and MacOS, but they are not perfectly identical in accessibility support and behavior. They may "leapfrog" each other.

  • Any specifics to add here?


  • Any specifics to add here?

Windows Mobile

Amazon Fire

  • Amazon Fire has its own inaccessible browser (Silk). (Has this improved?)
  • VoiceView is the Fire's screen reader.


Desktop Firefox

JAWS 2018 May Update and later supports Firefox 61+ and is the recommended combination for testing unless a client requests a different browser or the audit is for a US Federal government client or organization selling into the US Federal Government where IE 11 is used. Freedom Scientific recommends that JAWS 18 and JAWS 2018 and releases prior to May 2018 users use the ESR 52 (Extended Support Release) version as the new Firefox engine poses issues when using assistive technologies. FS posted a blog entry further elaborating on this and explaining what work is being done to resolve the issue.

Firefox 55.0.2 and Talkback

As of September 22 2017, there is no way to move the TalkBack cursor via swiping right or left on any webpage in Firefox. Also, when exploring by touch (which is the only way to move the cursor), the TalkBack green outline rectangle does not overlap the orange outline rectangle as it did before.

See this bug:

To resolve this, you'll need to downgrade your device to Firefox Version 54.0.1. Here is the FTP link:

Firefox 43 and Talkback

As of December 31 2015, it is not possible to activate links when Talkback is enabled. See this bug: (Note that this behavior is also present under Android 5.1.)

TO resolve this, you'll need to downgrade your device to Firefox 42.

  • Turn off automatic updates for Firefox:
    • Search for Firefox in the Google Play Store. Activate its icon in the list of results.
    • Activate "More Options" (3 dots at the top of the screen).
    • Uncheck "Auto Update." Note that talkback does not announce the state of this checkbox, so you'll need sighted assistance to check the state of this if you're blind. O_o
  • Uninstall Firefox 43. You can accomplish this under Home->Settings->Apps.
  • Download and install the appropriate build for your device here: [1]. Versions marked "ARM" are appropriate for all Nexus models, and versions marked "API 11" will work with any android version greater than 3.0.


Blog post from November 2014 on Dragon that includes discussion of ARIA support


The ChromeVox screen reader uses the document object model (DOM) to provide access to web content which is different than how many other screen readers and assistive technology access browser content through an accessibility API or combination of API and DOM and thus results may not reflect how other AT products will work in Chrome.

Notes of Differences Between Firefox and Chrome (on Android with TalkBack)

  • Simulated checkboxes with an opacity of 0 worked better on Chrome than Firefox (Wells Fargo)
  • Radio buttons on Chrome do not announce number of radio buttons. For example, there will be no 1 out of 3 announced on Chrome
  • Form field on Chrome does not announce the label if text is already entered.
  • Nested links inside of headings only read as links on chrome, instead of reading as heading link.
  • Table cells announce all association of cells and headers except for column 1 (Chrome/S6)
  • br is a swipe stop (Chrome/S6)
  • readonly form fields announce that they can be activated to enter text (Chrome/S6)
  • aria-expanded does not announce (Chrome/S6)

Other useful sites