Easier Browsing for the Blind and Visually Impaired in IE11


Internet Explorer 11 makes browsing the Web easier for blind and visually impaired users who rely on screen readers, such as Windows Narrator. With the editing and input improvements in IE11, screen readers can better inform users about the current content of an editing region, and typing with East Asian languages using an Input Method Editor (IME) is now easier. With these changes, IE11 improves the experience of the next generation of cloud-based applications for a growing portion of the world’s population.

Notifications Keep Users of Screen Readers Better Informed

IE11 improves editing in e-mail and online Web document applications by notifying screen readers about both automatic and user-initiated text changes. Here are a few examples of the new notifications in IE11:

  • Auto-correct: Internet Explorer auto-corrects misspelled words. For example, if a user types “teh” in English, it will be corrected to “the.” IE11 adds a new notification so screen readers can inform users that auto-correct is happening.
  • Backspace: As a user types, the screen reader announces each keystroke. However, simply hearing ‘backspace’ announced is not particularly helpful because it is hard to know what is being deleted. IE11 notifies the screen reader which letter was deleted, so it can be announced.
  • Formatting: When reading or writing an email or other Web content, users need to understand the formatting of the message, not just the raw text. IE11 provides more detailed notifications to screen readers, so users can better understand the content they are reading or editing. For example, Microsoft Narrator says “bold” and “end bold” to let the user know that a section of text was emphasized with bold styling. You can try it out for yourself in Microsoft Narrator by enabling Verbose Mode using Caps Lock + A. This video demonstrates how Microsoft Narrator reads formatting information.

With IE11, screen readers can share text formatting details with blind and visually impaired users

Better Input with East Asian Languages

Input Method Editors (IMEs) are used to type East Asian languages using a typical English keyboard. For example, using the Japanese IME, a user can type a Japanese character phonetically (“su”), and the IME will display a list of candidates for the corresponding Japanese character (す). With IE11, screen readers can now read the candidate characters to the user. For example, in this video, Microsoft Narrator announces the list of candidates, along with the current target, as the user types “すし” (sushi). Users are also told when their candidate is finalized.

With IE11, screen readers can announce text input candidate characters from an IME

Web authors and users will get this functionality with all screen readers that have implemented the new capability.

Summary

IE continues to improve Web access for all users. With these new features, writing email and other documents is easier with IE while using a screen reader. Try it out now with Microsoft Narrator and IE11 on Windows 8.1. We look forward to receiving your feedback on Connect.

Ben Peters
Program Manager, Internet Explorer

Comments (16)

  1. BlindProgrammer says:

    Great news!

    However, I have some questions:

    1. In Windows 8 and 8.1, Narrator often does not announce anything for some of the positions when you move through the page using item view. It seems that it does not intelligently skip empty divs or other HTML tags? In any case, reading by item is not smooth and pleasant on most sites. Shouldn't you improve the way that MSAA present information to Narrator to solve such issues? Another problem is that many times individual items in Item View are too large, such as having a bunch links being grouped together.

    2. The search feature of Narrator capslock+enter is cumbersome to use. The categories of things to search for are limited and using that dialog is confusing: focus management in that dialog has something wrong with it. Could you pass this feedback on? I don't know whom to contact.

    3. Many 3rd-party screen readers have to still rely on the dom for getting a lot of their information. MSAA does not provide a lot of the stuff to them.

    4. Shouldn't IME and autocorrect improvements be available all over the operating system? Why only in IE?

    5. In most MS apps, such as IE or File Explorer, the MSAA or UI Automation tree is too deep and full of unnecessary nodes. On Mac OS X the accessibility tree is smooth and clean. Why not in Windows OSes?

    6. When are you going to re-implement your accessibility code using UI Automation? You have come out with this then modern framework back in 2006. When are you going to write your own apps such as IE actually using it?

  2. chriswin says:

    When are you going to have EI on ios and android. web-kit browsers don't open or render Asp.net website the right way, even this site does open on my computer when using chrome, to increase your foot print, services reach and market share you really have too. developers and users are being hurt by web-kit specific browsers, so please.

  3. chriswin says:

    When are you going to have IE on ios and android. web-kit browsers don't open or render Asp.net website the right way, even this site does open on my computer when using chrome, to increase your foot print, services reach and market share you really have too. developers and users are being hurt by web-kit specific browsers, so please.

  4. chriswin says:

    When are you going to have IE on ios and android. web-kit browsers don't open or render Asp.net website the right way, even this site does open on my computer when using chrome, to increase your foot print, services reach and market share you really have too. developers and users are being hurt by web-kit specific browsers, so please.

  5. xpclient says:

    Showing the page title in the title bar, the page loading indicator and a dedicated search box will also help here but MS doesn't seem fully committed.

  6. xpclient says:

    Also, some tool to let end users fine tune DirectWrite/IE text rendering without modifying system ClearType setting will be very helpful for our eyes.

  7. Arieta says:

    @xpclient: Page title in the title bar and page loading indicator can be readded with Classic Shell. For a dedicated search, start your queries with a question mark in the URL bar.

  8. xpclient says:

    @Arieta, I know I am on Classic Shell team. I just wish it was built-in. :) Dedicated search box is different from address bar search, it has better usability for search providers and OpenSearch discovery. Even IE6 could do address bar search yet MS added it for a reason in IE7/IE8 and then as part of their extreme push to reduce the useful of UIs in favor of minimalism and attempt to copy Google Chrome's UI, they removed it.

  9. @BlindProgrammer: It’s great to see the community’s continued enthusiasm for accessibility! I’ll make sure my team and the other teams working on these features are aware of your requests. We’re happy to have the input.

  10. Mathias says:

    Where can I turn off auto correct, or at least specify the language for the text? For example, in the comment I am writing right now, IE has underlined every single word in red because it tries to use German auto correction on English text

  11. asdf says:

    How about builtin support for adblock, noscript, userstyle.css, and userscript.js? So much crap on websites get in the way of screen readers that you can eliminate from the DOM with these tools.

  12. @Mathias: Auto correction and spellchecking are based on your current keyboard language. Please add English in Control Panel and switch to it before typing English. You could refer to the "Spellchecking and Multiple Languages" section in this blog post:

    blogs.msdn.com/…/typing-with-speed-and-accuracy-in-ie10.aspx

  13. hAl says:

    @asdf

    You can use Tracking protection lists to get rid of a lot of tracking crap.

    In addition you could download Adblock plus and Ghostery to get rid of more ads or scripts in IE

  14. Peter says:

    Good work!

  15. _bug_ says:

    As an IME user, I want to say that the default IMEs are not quite compatible with quite a few websites, such as http://www.guokr.com/ and many others. I wish you could fix it.