NVDA 2018.1 is released, Download and What’s new

NVDA the free Windows screen reader by NVAccess released the first version for 2018 i.e NVDA 2018.1. The release include few new features, bug fixes and developer enhancements.


What’s new in NVDA 2018.1


  • Support for charts in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.
  • Support for new language Kyrgyz.
  • Added support for VitalSource Bookshelf.
  • New touch interaction setting in NVDA preferences

And many more bug fixes and feature enhancements. Read the complete NVDA 2018.1 updates.


Download or update to NVDA 2018.1

Visit the NVDA download page for NVDA 2018.1. If already have an older version update to 2018.1.


updating to NVDA 2018.1


  1. Press NVDA + n to open NVDA settings.
  2. Navigate to Help by pressing down arrow until you hear Help.
  3. Press right arrow to move into the help menu.
  4. Press down arrow until you hear Check for updates.
  5. Press enter Check for updates and follow the onscreen instructions.

NVDA is an open source and free screen reading solution for Windows operating system. Support the cause by donating to the NVDA project.



aria-keyshortcuts (property)

The aria-keyshortcuts property informs the screen reader user the shortcuts developer implemented to activate or focus an element on the web page or an application. Aria-keyshortcuts is an ARIA 1.1 property. Developers use the accesskey attribute to assign a shortcut for an element on the web page. It is a great idea to implement a shortcut key for few controls on applications and web pages. However content developers should carefully consider the shortcut key they are going to assign.


The same shortcut key or accesskey assigned for a function or command should be the same as the property of aria-keyshortcut too. Following are some common practices to consider while implementing aria-keyshortcuts property.

Considerations for aria-keyshortcuts property

  1. Provide one or more modifier keys. Eg: Alt, control, shift etc.
  2. Provide exactly one non-modifier key. Eg: a – z, 0 – 9, special characters such as escape, tab, f1 etc.
  3. The sequence must be one or more modifier keys followed by a non-modifier key. Eg: Alt + f is the right key not the F + alt.
  4. The value of keys must be what the user hits on the keyboard not the keys that are the result of. Eg: The command will be Shift + 5 not %.
  5. The upper case and lower case letters are consider same. Eg: letter x and X are same.


Additional considerations for assigning aria-keyshortcuts

  1. The value of aria-keyshortcut must not conflict with browser, assistive technology or operating system key commands.
  2. The functionality or the script for invoking or focusing the element should be taken care by the developer. Aria-keyshortcuts property just informs the screen reader users about the existance of the shortcut.
  3. Consider the device and keyboard the users might be using to invoke the functionality. Users may use keyboards of different languages.
  4. Shortcut keys should be made available to wider set of users. Aria-keyshortcuts property can only be made available to screen reader users. Using a tooltip or any other mechanisms the assigned shortcut key must be intimated to all other users.
  5. Ensure that aria-keyshortcuts property is not available for disabled elements.

The shortcut keys not only help screen reader users or keyboard only users but power users highly depend on shortcut keys to make the task faster.

Aria-keyshortcuts used in roles

Can be assigned to any element of the base markup.

Values of aria-keyshortcuts

A string value that defines the shortcut key.


Related Links

HTML5 accesskey Maxability

Accesskey Web AIM

Accesskey HTML MDN


Mobile apps accessibility! Is it impossible?

Mobile apps accessibility is something always make me upset. I am a full time IOS user and often play with my Samsung tab with Android OS in it. I am also a screen reader user so I heavily depend on VoiceOver and TalkBack.

My Apple iPhone acts as a personal assistant to me. Beginning with the alarm to wake me up in the morning until the reminder to bed in the night the apps in the phone help me plan my day perfect. Few other apps help me in making the financial management, some help in reading the news, get live update of cricket score, some for travel etc. However most of these mobile apps frustrate me a lot due to their inaccessible user interface. Let me outline few common problems which I observe often.


Problems with mobile app accessibility

Missing labels for interactive elements.

The back, font resize and bookmark buttons in Times Of India IOS app reads as follows. BackChervlon Icon 0, FontSelecter icon 0 and Bookmark Icon 0. Who knows that they are back, font resizer and bookmark buttons.


Grouping and splitting User interface elements

In one of the famous mobile app that provides mobile wallet, online shopping and travel booking the UI elements are completely inaccessible with VoiceOver. I am talking about you Paytm. The flight booking screen is a perfect example of 100% inaccessible mobile screen. The labels From and To are read out in a single swipe and in the next swipe the two buttons are read at once. In no way the VoiceOver user can activate these buttons. Rest of the elements in the booking process are no better. It looks to me that Paytm don’t want their blind customers to make travel booking from the mobile app.

After demonetization in India the mobile apps such as paytm have healed the situation to certain extent. However inaccessible mobile user interface make the situation no better for persons with disabilities.

No role or state announced

In many apps the tabs are not announced as tabs and do not say which is currently selected. Users who can see can easily outline which tab is currently selected with the change in color but the same is not apparent for users who rely on VoiceOver or Talkback. The FoodPanda IOS app is a perfect example of this. Restaurants, Orders, Basket, Deals and more are the tabs a voiceover user can reach at the end of the FoodPanda IOS screen. These UI elements do neither say that they are tabs nor do they say which of them is currently selected. Of course the app contains a lot of unlabeled buttons setting examples to let people know how something should not be coded.


Why are these mobile apps not accessible?


Do you think the mobile app developing technology is not matured enough to create accessible user interface? Do you think the same OS providers who work hard to make robust screen readers like VoiceOver and TalkBack have not thought about accessibility in their respective development kits? Do you think there are no set standards that drive mobile app accessibility?

Apple IOS and Google Android are putting lot of effort in creating platforms that enable developers to develop accessible apps. They have also provided a lot of great documentation allowing the designers and developers to make best use of the technology. I will share the resources later in the article to learn this new skill. Talking about the standards, the W3C’s WCAG 2.0 standards are not technology specific. They can be applied to any digital technology including mobile app accessibility.


Primarily the businesses especially in India are either not aware of accessibility or they do not think about the experiences of persons with disabilities and age old people. No much focus is on accessibility both in academics or in the job for designers and developers to enhance the skill of mobile app accessibility. In a way they are losing a large market share. Taking my example, I use Tapzo instead of similar apps such as Paytm or FoodPanda, Uber instead of Ola cabs, Tez instead of HDFC bank etc.

It is the responsibility of the designers and developers to do the right thing. Making the mobile app accessible is not an additional effort or not a favor to certain user groups. It is the right thing to do. Enhancing your skills to ensure that the app you develop is reaching large number of users will open up new ideas to innovate inclusive features and products.

The following resources should help you get started to make your next mobile app, feature or screen accessible. If you need more assistance reach out to us through the contact page.


Mobile app accessibility resources


How To Meet the Needs of Older Internet Users

People who were in in their 40s during the internet boom of the late 90s will now be coming into retirement, suggesting a new wave of tech savvy seniors. There are increasing numbers of tech startups aimed at the elderly, but those aged 55+ are still only 3% of total internet users. In a world increasingly dependent upon the internet, we need to consider how we can keep so-called silver surfers connected. In order to help get seniors online, we must look beyond accessibility for disabled users and also consider the needs of older internet users.


Baby boomers will have been young enough to enjoy the excitement of the internet’s original web domainsExternal Website. They’ve come a long way since then, but they are still generally designed by young tech wizards, who may not have considered the difficulties that come with ageing. One of the main problems is with eyesight.

Modern websites which aim to be inclusive should use large, bright text and images where possible. There should also be an easily accessible button to adjust text size for those with visual impairments. By stripping out clutter and creating a clean looking website, we can ensure that all ages can enjoy surfing the web.


Another common symptom of ageing is hearing loss. This is particularly common at higher frequencies.External Website Web developers should therefore consider the pitch of any noises on their site and lower this so that it can be easily heard by the young and old alike. Most websites deal in text alone, but videos are becoming an increasingly common aspect of social media.

The best way to ensure accessibility of videos is to use accurate and easy to read subtitles. Introducing these can bring new information to seniors that they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. As with visual design, audio should be clean and clutter free. That means removing distracting background music. For video guides, the speaker should talk loudly, slowly and clearly, with the hearing impaired in mind.


The third biggest problem that seniors face online concerns their movement. It can be difficult to navigate fiddly on screen icons if dealing with arthritis pain.External Website It is therefore a good idea to ensure all buttons are big and easy to click on. Modern touch screen technology on smartphones, tablets and laptops are making navigation easier for everybody, but website developers can do more to help.
Those with poor fine motor control will appreciate a website with large icons, which are clearly separated from each other. This can perhaps be done using different colors. The most important buttons should be in highly visible places to reduce the need to search around for a long time.

Seniors are perhaps more interested in using the internet than you intuitively believe. This will be increasingly the case in coming years. However, visual, auditory and motor deterioration will always occur. Website developers should therefore design their sites with the elderly in mind and work to create pages accessible to all ages.

Contributed by

This article is contributed by Jackie Edwards. Thank you for a wonderful work.

Toast! Is it accessible?

What is a toast

A toast is a non modal that appears on the screen for few seconds and auto expires. The toast shares an alert containing a message to the user. For example: In an email client, once you hit the send button the toast can display a message that says “Sending message” and disappears once it is sent. This message pops only for few seconds and does not require user interaction.


The toast accessibility problems


  • Enough time: The toast displays the message only for few seconds. This in many cases will not be enough for the users to read the message before it disappears. As I do the research on Android the maximum length for displaying a toast is 3.5 seconds. Author can set toast.LENGTH_SHORT and toast.LENGTH_LONG for the duration attribute.
  • Reading the message: For users who depend on screen reading technologies, the toast messages must be read out as they appear. If they are not read out the important message shared through the toast will not be conveyed to them. Of course they don’t even know that the toast message has displayed and disappeared.
  • On page load: If the toast messages are displayed on page load it might be disorienting for certain users.
  • Consistent identification: As the Android developer guide a toast message can be  displayed on any place on the screen. Top, bottom, left, right or even at a certain position on the screen. If toast messages available on different screen appears on different positions it causes difficulty for the users to locate it.
  • Automatic time out: The toasts as said in the definition disappears without user interaction. People who want to read it for longer time and who want to dismiss the toast by themselves may not able to do it accurately.

Suggestions to make toast accessible

  • Extend the time limit: Extend the display time limit of the toast messages. Depending on the length of the message the time should be extended. Since the toast.LENGTH_SHORT and toast.LENGTH_LONG are defined by a flag they cannot be changed directly. However, I found few alternates that in extending the duration by making it reappear immediately after it disappears even without user notice. Here is a sample implementation on cindypotvin’s blog that shows the toast message until the count down set by the author completes.
  • Reading the toast message: Using ARIA techniques such as role alert and aria-live the toast messages can be made available for screen reading technologies as soon as they are displayed.
  • Consistent Identification: By default on Android the toast messages are displayed on the bottom of the screen. Authors can set the same to appear on any specific position on the screen. Read Android development guide to know how to do it. Instead of the default behavior if the content author want to display the toast message at a specific position take care that it is displayed at same position on each screen every time it is displayed.
  • Automatic time out: The default behavior of the toast is to time out after a specific duration i.e. 3.5 seconds maximum. Unless the author explicitly provides additional time as discussed in the first point. Automatic time out is not a good practice as far as accessibility is concerned, but the Android developer guide recommends to use notification instead if user interaction is required to dismiss the non modal.
  • Other suggestions: For different types of messages use different ways of identification. Eg: It might not be a good practice to have the same appearance for error message and the help message.  Contrasting colors for the message and background, not only sensory characteristics to convey the messages,  focus indicators etc.

Reference links (External websites)

How to show a Toast for a specific duration in Android

How to Make Business Events Accessible to People with Disabilities

Business events are effective strategies to showcase products, discuss strategies, attract investments or get together with employees and fellow corporations. However, one of the biggest challenges of holding corporate events is to ensure that they are accessible to all attendees including those with disabilities. Accessibility goes beyond providing ramps for wheelchair users encompassing all types of impairment from hearing and vision loss to cognitive and physical conditions. In India, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 (PDF) is the legislation that recognizes and protects the rights of people with disabilities.  Here are simple tips to make sure that your events are reachable to all target audience and participants.

Assign an Accessibility Planner

Hosting an event requires extensive planning involving several players. If you are to ensure that the event is accessible to participants with disabilities, assigning a person to take charge of all arrangements makes sense. The coordinator will be touch base with other planners to ensure that accessibility requirements are met.

Site Selection is Critical

The most challenging barrier to accessibility is the site of the event. Older buildings, for example, may not have accessible routes and facilities for those with disabilities. The selected site can be evaluated and modified to include installing ramps, assigning parking areas, rearranging tables, chairs & display racks, installing flash alarm lights and others practical adjustments.
Accommodating Different Types of Disabilities

Inside venues, there are several ways to include the needs of those who have disabilities. Beforehand, utilization of a disability-friendly online events ticket software can make it seamless for everyone to get their passes. At the event, individuals with poor vision or who are blind may need special things such as larger fonts in print materials, Braille or audio information & instructions. Slideshows can incorporate visuals and graphics to improve impact while a member of staff can direct those who need assistance in locating activities or amenities during events and conferences.
Deaf or hearing-impaired visitors and participants may receive captioned media, sign language interpreters, and assistive learning devices to make it easy to participate in events. In addition to welcoming participants with service animals, you must also provide service areas with bowls of water for these helpers as well as an area to walk or exercise.
Lights are important for visibility but do remember that bright lights are a problem for epileptics. Dim lights make it difficult for people with vision impairment to read and see things or for people with hearing disability to lip read. A reasonable compromise is to provide adequate lights and keep an area reasonably dimmed with the help of blinds or curtains.
With careful planning, making business events inclusive and accessible does not cost a fortune involving slight modifications to the site or facility. Above all, these alterations help those with disabilities interact and engage comfortably ensuring the success of a business event.


This article is contributed by Jackie Edwards. Thank you for a wonderful work.

HTML5 Autoplay Attribute

HTML5 autoplay is a new attribute. to support the multimedia content. This attribute is used for <video> and <audio> elements. Along with other HTML5 audio and video attributes such as controls, HTML5 autoplay is also a boolean attribute. When this attribute is used the audio or video on the page plays when the page loads. User is not expected to activate the play button manually.

Using HTML5 autoplay is not a good practice as per WCAG 2.0 standards. As per 1.4.2 Audio controls, no audio should be played automatically for more than 3 seconds. This is also a major disadvantage for screen reader users. As the audio plays automatically when the page loads the screen reader users will not be able to hear what the screen reader is reading making the entire web page inaccessible.

Using HTML5 autoplay

Provide the autoplay attribute along with other attributes such as controls, src etc in the <video> or <audio> elements. sample code below.

<br /> <video controls autoplay><source src="movie.mp4" type="video/mp4"/><source src="movie.ogg" type="video/ogg"/>Your browser does not support the video tag.</video><br />
Remember that as per accessibility standards and usability for screen reader users do not use HTML5 autoplay attribute.

At a Glance-Screen Reader User Survey 7 results

During October 2017, Web AIM has conducted the 7th screen reader user survey. In this article I want to summarize the Web AIM screen reader user survey 7 results for my readers. This will allow you all to take critical decisions for your on-going and future web accessibility projects. The complete results can be viewed at Web AIM screen reader user survey #7 results (external).


Interesting Facts

The 7th screen reader user survey was taken by 1792 users out of which 1585 reported that they use screen readers due to a disability. This indicates that the results can be taken as direct input given by the end users themselves. A few of these participants (129) reported they have hard of hearing and cognitive disability. These percent may not be screen reader users.

Though majority of the survey takers are from North America (60%), users from Europe, Asia, Africa & middle east and Australia have also taken it. This indicates a global participation.

Screen reader demographics

The latest screen reader user survey revealed that JAWS is undoubtedly the leader in the desktop screen reader market with 46% share followed by NVDA 32%. Voiceover on Mac operating system increased to 11.7% from 7.6% in 2015. JAWS and NVDA has also increased their share but the major change is because Window Eyes was packaged free with MS office during 2015 survey.

The statistics of commonly used screen readers is really interesting. JAWS share is 66.0 and NVDA is 64.9. This means the difference is just 1.1%.

In case of mobile screen readers almost 88% reported that they use screen reader on mobile device. This is almost 20% increase from 2015. In 2015 survey 69.2% respondents reported that they use mobile screen reader. Though the Apple devices are considered expensive voiceover takes the major share of mobile screen reader market. 75.6% reported that they use Apple products while Android users are just 22%.


Browser usage

It is very clear that Firefox is the browser used by most of the screen reader users on desktop. Firefox is used by 41% of respondents. With the recent release of Firefox quantum which might not be a smooth experience for the screen reader usability, this might be changed in future. Internet explorer 11 with 23.3% and Google Chrome with 15.5 % are in the next places. Safari’s share is 10.5%. This may be purely by voiceover on Mac users. Microsoft Edge is not yet adopted by screen reader users. The current share is just 0.5%. The combine share of internet explorer 10 and below is slightly more than 8%.


Screen reader and browser combinations

As we explained in our article screen reader and browser combination                , JAWS and internet explorer form a pair with 24.7% share, NVDA and Firefox with 23.6%, Voiceover and Safari with 10%. The other interesting combination is JAWS with firefox having 15.1%. This might be due to high % of users having JAWS as their primary screen reader and Firefox as their primary browser.

Mobile Statistics

As we noted 88% of the respondents use mobile screen readers the use of mobile apps Vs mobile websites is also interesting. To accomplish a task 46% users are likely to use mobile app while 54% are interested in using website. This is a marginal difference. Also it was noted that the proficient screen reader users are likely to use mobile apps. So no wonder the usage of mobile apps will increase in the future compared with the use of mobile website.


Web Accessibility facts

85% of the respondents claimed that it is the responsibility of the developers to provide accessible websites. Two questions in this section, one talking about the landmarks to navigate the web page and the other ways to find the required information directly or indirectly reveals that headings are the most used mechanisms to navigate different portions of the web page. Almost 60% of respondents said that they expect a first level heading with the document title. Being an accessibility consultant I recommend having a skip to main content link for keyboard only users and a first level heading at the beginning of the main content to skip the repeated navigational items on the web page. I strongly believe both of them are important while landmarks can be an additional advantage to satisfy 2.4.1 Bypass blocks.

Finally, CAPTCHA is still the major problematic item on the web. Content that updates dynamically is noted as the second problematic item in this survey. This indicates that the developers should be more careful while developing complex interactions and widgets on the websites. Providing meaningful text for links and buttons, keyboard accessibility and forms accessibility are also noted as problematic elements by many respondents.



Thank you web AIM for this survey. Hope digital content becomes more accessible in the future.


Web Accessibility Suits and Settlements in 2017

End of the year, Time to look at web accessibility suits and settlements in 2017. Few web accessibility suits that are filed in the courts, the settlements that are agreed without law suits are provided below. The refresh of section 508 refresh is a major legal update in 2017. Apart from the links below, there are few other suits such as Manhattan College, Long Island University, Hofstra University, College of Westchester, Iona College, College of New Rochelle etc for which I could not find relevant information.

Below are few web accessibility suits and settlements in 2017

Note that all the below links target to external websites.

If you know more suits or settlements not listed here , please comment below and I will update the same in the article. Also read our articles on web accessibility suits and settlements in 2016, 2015 and 2014.

aria-errormessage (property)

aria-errormessage property is used to present the error message to a screen reader user. It uses id value to reference the message container. This is similar to aria-describedby property which references a message from any other container on the page using the id value reference.

As per WCAG 2.0 SC 3.3.1 Error Identification, user need to be intimated about the error message that is displayed when a form field has invalid data or the form submission is failed.


Aria-errormessage is a ARIA 1.1 property. This property need to be used along with aria-invalid state.  This property is used in a form field to convey the error message to a screen reader user.


How does aria-errormessage work?


Aria-errormessage need to be used in the form element referring to the message container with the id value. Initially the form field will be in valid state. So aria-invalid must be set to false or completely avoid using it. The error message container will be hidden from the screen and also for the screen reader using the CSS properties such as visibility:hidden. If the screen reader user need to be intimated immediately when the error message is invoked, in other words when the user enters invalid data aria-live property need to be used. So initially set aria-live to off.

Once the user inputs an invalid data in the form, change the status of aria-invalid from false to true. This will inform the screen reader user that the data entered is incorrect. Now 2 make the error message visible to the user change the CSS style property to visibility:visible. The aria-errormessage will now be able to associate the message since the container’s id is already referred in the input element. To ensure that the error message is announced immediately to the screen reader user switch the aria-live property to aria-live=”assertive”.


Aria-errormessage used in roles

Can be used in any element of the base markup.

Values of Aria-errormesage property

Uses id reference as the value.