Web Browsers:  Accessibility and the Changing Landscape

September 1, 2018 | Leave a Comment

by David Flament

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Jocelyn sits at a computer exploring Peapod's website

 

Internet Explorer has been discontinued and Microsoft has not sent any major updates since 2015. Internet Explorer is becoming unsafe to use. If you are still using Internet Explorer, it may be time to try another web browser. Here are some other web browser options you may want to consider.

 

Microsoft Edge

What has replaced Internet Explorer? Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft created Edge to be its main web browser. While it was not accessible when Windows 10 was released in 2015, assistive technology companies and Microsoft have worked hard the past several years to make it more accessible.  Edge is now mostly accessible with screen readers, but not as much with screen magnifiers.

Edge is a modern app, not a desktop app.  The interface has no menu bar or ribbon. Any items you would find on a menu or ribbon are now navigated with a series of several tabs. This makes Edge cumbersome to use. I do not care for this interface and do not use Microsoft Edge very often.

Microsoft Edge is the default web browser in Windows 10. This means if you open any HTML file or follow any links in a document, Edge is the browser that will come up.  If you want to change the default browser in Windows 10 to another browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft has step-by-step instructions on its website.

 

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is currently the most popular web browser on the market. It is the browser I use most often. You may have heard that Chrome was not accessible or needed an add-on to make it accessible. This is no longer the case. Chrome is very accessible and uses most of the same keyboard commands you have grown used to in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

Like Microsoft Edge, Chrome does not have a traditional menu bar or ribbon. When you press the ALT key, you will hear “Google menu.”  Everything is on this one menu. All you need to do is DOWN ARROW to find the items you would normally see on an older menu bar, like Bookmarks or Settings.

Google Chrome does not come installed on most new computers. To get Google Chrome, go to: www.google.com/chrome

 

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox has been around for a long time.  It was the first web browser to use tabbed browsing and has been the web browser of choice for use with NVDA. That changed back in November with the release of Firefox 57, often referred to as Firefox Quantum.

Version 57 was a total makeover, and unfortunately, damaged the accessibility to a level where it was mostly unusable with a screen reader. However, Mozilla quickly realized what they had done and issued an apology, promising to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Now, Mozilla is on version 61 of Firefox and everything is working great.

Mozilla Firefox does not come installed on most new computers. To get Firefox you can go to: www.mozilla.org

 

Remember, you can have more than one web browser installed on your computer.  I  find that sometimes a particular website can be more accessible in one web browser than another.  So don’t be afraid to try more than one.

David is the Manager of Assistive Technology at Second Sense.

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