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Assistiv Labs November 2020 Product Updates

New years resolution: sending out this newsletter on time! There's been a lot of changes this November.

💸 Reminder: don’t let your budget go unused this year. It only takes a few minutes to save with an Assistiv Labs annual subscription.

Assistive technology updates

The VoiceOver iOS 14.2 and 14.3 updates were released. Highlights include:

  • While iOS 14.1 brought a change to VoiceOver’s focus behavior, where the element under the VO cursor in Safari received .focus(), iOS 14.2 reverted the change. For example, skip links with a CSS ::focus class applied are no longer visible under the VO cursor (but they still work)

MacOS Big Sur (11.0) VoiceOver arrived with a number of improvements:

  • Like iOS, you can now use MacOS Voice Control with VoiceOver
  • On the new Apple Silicon Macs, MacOS VoiceOver works with iPhone and iPad apps
  • iOS custom actions (a long time iOS Rotor option) are now more available for MacOS VoiceOver. Explore what’s available with VO + CMD + SPACE
  • MacOS VoiceOver has adopted some of iOS VoiceOver’s sounds. For example, using VO + SPACE to press a button will now play a “pop” sound instead of vocalizing “press”
  • Try out the new accessibility shortcut in the MacOS menu bar

JAWS 2021 has left public beta and is now the official release. You should be prompted to automatically upgrade if your license allows it.

Browser updates

Safari 14 ships with Big Sur and iOS 14.

  • Supports page translation in select languages, which does translate aria-label
  • Adobe Flash, accessibility issues and all, has been removed
  • Implemented accessibility for HTML5 drag and drop with VoiceOver (#211415)
  • VoiceOver no longer reads “empty group” for SVG text (#210315)
  • <address> no longer maps to role="contentinfo" (#212617)

Firefox 83 was released on November 17th.

  • VoiceOver fixes continue in a steady stream
  • Google Docs now supports the paragraph boundary with screen readers (#1666998)

Chrome 87 has landed with 14,706 commits:

  • Override font metrics with @font-face descriptors, which could be useful for ensuring readability
  • Android Talkback now announces ARIA role="listbox" indices (#1101656)
  • Talkback now works with aria-checked="mixed" (#1121750)
  • Talkback now works with ARIA toggle buttons, announcing state (#1121743)
  • Talkback improved support for role="progressbar" (b7a3ad)
  • Talkback now supports only announcing partial ARIA live region changes (904b3b)
  • Talkback now reads role="alertdialog" contents (#1114895)

Edge 87 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:

  • PDF text highlight now has keyboard support

Assistiv Labs updates

All Windows ATs now run on Windows 10 (October 2020 update)! This means you can test the bleeding edge of Narrator and Windows High Contrast.

It also means Microsoft Accessibility Insights for Windows has replaced the legacy inspect.exe for debugging the OS accessibility tree. You can find MSAI in the taskbar.


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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