According to the HTML5 accessibility website, Firefox for Windows has zoomed ahead of its rivals regarding support for HTML5 accessibility. In the site’s tests, the browser scores an impressive 92/100. All other browsers score 24/100 or less, bar Safari for Mac, with a credible 74/100.
Site owner and technical director of TPG Europe Steve Faulkner opined on Twitter that the results suggested “Mozilla’s commitment to HTML5 accessibility is second to none”. He told us that from his own testing and the interaction he’s had with Mozilla’s accessibility team, “they are the most open, inclusive and willing of the browser vendors to commit the resources to provide accessibility implementation support and to work with the accessibility community to make sure Firefox is as accessible as it can be”.
We also asked Faulkner about the odd discrepancy between platforms, with Firefox scoring 92 on Windows but only 20 on Mac, along with Safari doing well on Mac but very poorly on Windows. “Until recently, the Mozilla accessibility team has not had the resources and in-house skills to work on accessibility on the Mac version of Firefox, instead concentrating on Windows and Linux,” he said, adding that this situation will soon change, as reported in two articles on marcozehe.de. “As for Safari, it appears that Apple’s accessibility implementation effort has gone almost exclusively into WebKit/Safari on OS X/iOS, and it’s difficult to predict future plans for non-Mac platforms. What can be said is that WebKit on Windows has seen very little improvement in HTML5 accessibility support over the past few years.”
Over the coming year, Faulkner told us he reckons we’ll see “major improvements in Mozilla’s accessibility implementation support on Mac and Android,” and he thought Opera’s support will “remain uniformly poor“. Elsewhere, he had hopes that Chrome will see improvements, and though WebKit for Mac will “continue to record solid improvements, while on Windows it will continue to languish”. Regarding Internet Explorer, Faulkner believed improvements will occur but in part be hampered due to slow release cycles, forcing continued workarounds by developers. But he added IE does fare will in one area: “IE leads in HTML canvas accessibility support, and that will continue in IE 10, but Mozilla is actively working on canvas accessibility improvements that will also be available in the near future.”
Despite these mixed predictions, Faulkner said any improvements would be beneficial, with users of assistive technology more often able to “understand and interact successfully with the new HTML5 UI controls and semantic elements,” and developers increasingly able to “expend less effort backfilling HTML5 accessibility support using WAI-ARIA”.