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Revision as of 19:18, 11 February 2014 by (Talk | contribs) (Bugs: add category)

Testing Orion Accessibility

A great accessibility test is to put your mouse (and/or trackpad) out of reach and just use the keyboard for a while. Every time you find yourself reaching for your visual pointing device, stop and think, "Can I do this with the keyboard"? Need a menu? Type Alt. Context menu? Shift+F10. Zoom in/out/restore? Ctrl +, Ctrl -, and Ctrl 0 (or Cmd on Mac). List of keyboard commands in Orion? Shift+? (or Alt+Shift+? from within the editor). Every platform and every browser has a set of keyboard shortcuts. For platform shortcuts, check out Wikipedia's Table of Keyboard Shortcuts. For browser-specific shortcuts, see the list below. If you can't figure out how to do something with the keyboard in Orion, then maybe that something needs to be fixed. If an important function takes too many keystrokes, maybe a key binding - or a refactoring - is needed.

After you become more proficient with keyboard navigation, start testing with a screen reader. Learn some of the screen reader's keyboard commands. Try listening without looking at the monitor. Think you've got the keyboard aced? Turn off your monitor and see if you can last more than 30 seconds before turning it back on.

Browser Accessibility and Keyboard Shortcuts

Screen Readers and other Assistive Technologies

Screen readers interpret what is being displayed on the screen, and then read the information aloud or send it to a braille display to assist low-vision or blind users. Magnifiers enhance the screen with magnification and highlighting to benefit low-vision users. Inspectors are testing tools that present semantic information to developers.


  • Narrator screen reader for IE10+ in Windows 8 (but not Firefox or Chrome)
  • AccProbe inspector for Firefox and Chrome
  • Inspect (available with Windows SDK) for IE


  • Inspect Objects (installed with Xcode). Note: with Xcode 4.3, you need to use Xcode->Open Developer Tool->More Developer Tools...



  • ChromeVox screen reader for Chrome browsers on all OS platforms
  • ChromeShades inspection tool for Chrome browsers shows you visually what a screen reader user would hear

Orion Documentation

Accessible documentation includes making sure that the written text can stand alone without the images. If images are used to convey meaning, then suitable replacement text needs to be supplied. Alternative text for an image in a wiki follows a vertical bar typed after the image file name, for example: [[Image:Orion-myimage.png|My Alternative Text]]. Exactly what the alternative text should say depends on the context. For example, here are HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives.

Make sure that links have meaningful text. Link text for a link in a wiki follows a space after the link url, for example: [ Google]. Avoid using words like here and here and here and more... and more... as link text because screen reader users rely on the link text to tell them what the link is for.


The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative is the overarching body that publishes the standards and guidelines for web accessibility.


In order to write Accessible Rich Internet Applications you need to use WAI-ARIA to augment your HTML/Javascript/CSS with semantic information.

Read the Introduction to WAI-ARIA or jump right into the WAI-ARIA Specification.

Follow the 13-step process for creating an accessible widget with WAI-ARIA.

Make sure the user can navigate to every focusable control or item with the keyboard. Read section 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 and section 3.2.1 of the ARIA Authoring Practices doc.

Follow the ARIA Design Patterns when you are creating custom controls like a dialog, tree, breadcrumb, or toolbar.

Here is an ARIA Role, State, and Property Quick Reference.

For examples of ARIA in Orion, search for aria- or tabindex= or role= in the code.

Tips of the Day

Orion committer Carolyn MacLeod wrote a very useful series of "tip of the day" messages that are a great place to get started with writing accessible web UIs.

  1. Whenever possible, use semantically appropriate HTML elements
  2. Add or augment the semantics of HTML elements with WAI-ARIA
  3. Every focusable element needs a name
  4. Use HTML5 section elements and ARIA landmark roles to semantically organize pages
  5. More on role="application", role="document" and role="presentation"

Web Accessibility Links

  • The ARIA wiki is still being developed, but it has some good resources.
  • WebAIM is a good web accessibility resource with articles and links to other resources.
  • WebAxe is a web accessibility blog and podcast with news and practical tips.
  • The Paciello Group is a good website containing a web accessibility blog and other resources.

Automated Testing Tools

Automated testing tools can find that low-hanging fruit, such as missing alt text on images, or pages without any headings. However automated testing does not take the place of clean design, user testing, and an understanding of what makes an application accessible.


Orion is an open source project. Testing, bug filing/triage, documentation and code contributions to the accessibility support are very welcome and greatly appreciated.

When you run into an issue, check the Orion accessibility bug list.

If your issue isn't in the list, file an Orion accessibility bug.

If you know how to fix it, please submit a patch.

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