Screen reader testing is a common action item while testing for accessibility. Since the web content is rendered on browsers, it is very important to know the best screen reader and browser combination for accessibility testing. Currently for both desktop and mobile devices many browsers are available in the market so as the screen readers. Testing with all screen reader and browser combinations is practically impossible. Making web content accessible for all screen reader and browser combinations is next to impossible.
In general Chrome takes highest market share in browser usage, statistics from Wikipedia article. This does not hold good when someone want to take a base for accessibility testing. The Web AIM screen reader user survey yields different results. Chrome is placed at third position after Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows operating system. Undoubtedly Safari holds top position for both OSx and IOS. For Android Mozilla have tried making great support with Talkback and Chrome is also significantly good while using with talkback. Further in the survey it is evident that JAWS with Internet Explorer, NVDA with Firefox and Safari with OSx are the highly used screen reader and browser combinations by the end users on desktop operating systems. For the accessibility testing is this screen reader and browser combination perfect pair? Let us see.
Listing down the highly used Screen Readers
- JAWS (Job Access With Speech)
- NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access)
- VoiceOver (OSx and IOS)
- Talkback (Android)
Listing down popular browsers
- Internet Explorer (Windows OS)
- Firefox (Windows OS and Android)
- Chrome (Windows OS and Android)
- Safari (OSx and IOS)
Screen reader and Browser combination
Let us first find the easy pairing screen reader and browser combinations.
VoiceOver and Safari
VoiceOver is the inbuilt screen reader both on OSx and IOS. Safari is the primary browser on these two Apple operating systems. Apple has put its best efforts in making the best screen reader VoiceOver and packaging it with its hardware devices and the operating systems. Being the operating system and inbuilt screen reader tightly coupled together undoubtedly VoiceOver with Safari on both OSx and IOS is the best screen reader and browser combination. Both in terms of usage statistics’ and accessibility implementation this pairing is best on said operating systems.
NVDA with Firefox
Users can access the content on all three major Windows operating system supported browsers i.e Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome using NVDA. However NVDA recommends Firefox for best experience. For accessibility testing, NVDA with Firefox is a best screen reader and browser combination.
JAWS with Internet Explorer
JAWS For Windows (JFW) is the popular screen reader first released in 1995 few years after Windows Operating system was released into the market by MicroSoft. Internet Explorer is one browser which is in the market since then. Narrator the inbuilt screen reader for Microsoft does not have enough support on browser, and Internet Explorer is the major browser, the web support of JAWS is highly dependent on Internet explorer. I have not found any other solid evidence than this to support of JAWS with Internet Explorer. So, the recommended screen reader and browser combination is Jaws with internet explorer.
Talkback with Firefox or Chrome
Talkback is the screen reader for Android operating System. Chrome being the native browser on Android, Talkback have increased a lot of support mechanism on the mobile Chrome. Before the talkback support on Chrome, Firefox have done a lot of work to make Firefox a preferred browser on Android to use with talkback. Read Marco Zehe series of articles on the topic. So, primarily Talk with Firefox on Android is a best screen reader and browser combination. Chrome with talkback is also a recommendation.
These are based on my experience and knowledge. Any thoughts, opinion’s or views are welcome.