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Assistiv Labs September/October 2020 Product Updates

A little late getting this across the finish line, but good news — this issue is packed with new AT, browser, and Assistiv Labs features!

For starters, Assistiv Labs is now publicly available 🎉. Please share a link with anyone you think should give it a try. Every account gets a 15 minute free trial, and plans allow unlimited users, so it’s incredibly easy to enable AT testing for your whole team (or company)!

Here’s what’s new this September (and early October).

Assistive technology updates

VoiceOver iOS 14 update is out. Highlights include:

NVDA 2020.3 has been released. Highlights include:

  • <mark> and role="mark" are now announced (#11436)
  • Be aware that, for performance reasons, system focus no longer follows the virtual cursor in browse mode. Check your skip links! (#11190)
  • When reading word by word, punctuation followed by whitespace will now be read by default (ex: "first, second" will read "first comma second") (#5133)
  • IE11: <ol start="2"> now correctly announces the list as starting with 2 (#8438)
  • Chrome: options within a role="listbox" with aria-checked now announce their state (#11377)
  • Native WPF Windows apps with readonly controls now work (#10494)

JAWS 2021 preview is in public beta. Highlights include:

  • Describe images on webpages that are missing alts by holding INSERT + SPACE, then pressing P followed by C
  • JAWS no longer automatically turns on reduced motion (AKA the "Show animations in Windows" setting in Ease of Access)

Browser updates

Chrome 86 is here with 18,575 commits.

  • CSS :focus-visible is now supported, leaving Safari and mobile browsers
  • CSS ::marker is now supported, although Safari has big bugs in its implementation, so might not be worth a look yet
  • Quick Focus Highlight is no longer behind a flag
  • <fieldset> now supports display: grid and flex (chromestatus.com)
  • VoiceOver now keeps focus in the address bar when opening a new tab (#1049320)
  • VoiceOver now announces each word after pressing SPACE in <input>s (#1110480)
  • Orca receives aria-activedescendant change events, even if the parent element doesn’t have focus (#1052859)
  • Orca now works with aria-sort (used for sortable table columns) (#1074417)
  • Orca navigate by heading works again (#1107373)
  • Orca now reads the save password bubble (#1079320)
  • Narrator now announces aria-checked changes within radio/menuitemradio (#1102580)
  • Narrator now announces spelling and grammar errors (d6db89)
  • JAWS announces Chrome Autofill UI (#1106044)
  • Screen readers now announce the selected file in <input type="file"> (#903655)
  • Caret browsing is now supported via F7 (#977390)

Edge 86 is also available. Because Edge uses Chromium, the same open source browser engine Chrome uses, most of the above changes also apply to Edge. That said, some features are Edge-only:

Assistiv Labs updates

Screenshot of Windows high contrast mode running in an Assistiv Labs session in Safari.

In addition to all the new AT and browser versions above, 5 new assistive technologies are now available on all plans, including Windows High Contrast Mode, Windows Magnifier, and shortcuts to test reduced motion and reader modes in Edge and Firefox.


That’s all for this month. If you have feedback, questions, or want to know more about specific bug fixes, I’m on the other side of this email — just hit reply.

Weston Thayer, Founder
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