Microsoft Targets Better Accessibility in Chromium

Posted on December 10, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 12 Comments

The current version of the Microsoft Edge accessible presentation layer

Perhaps not surprisingly, the first feature Microsoft has committed to adding to Chromium is for accessibility.

News of this “intent to implement,” as a Microsoft engineer calls it, comes via the Chromium forums; thanks to Sam for pointing this out to me via email. The feature is called UI Automation Providers, and it will allow Chromium-based browsers on Windows to seamlessly interact with accessibility client applications like Narrator.

“These interfaces are specific to the Windows platform and [are] not intended to be introduced as web standards,” Microsoft’s Rossen Atanassov explains. “It is not expected that web developers will need to make changes to their content as a result of this work, as UIAutomation support reflects lower-level implementation details, and will not be replacing or removing accessibility APIs already supported in Chromium.”

According to Microsoft, adding UI Automation Providers support to Chromium will allow assistive technology (AT) providers to “innovate on top of rich text-level interaction and smooth reading experiences; spend less time writing to different accessibility APIs, and more time on core capabilities; and take advantage of a continually-evolving platform, and the performance gains and extended capabilities that come along with it.”

Best of all, there are no perceived risks to this addition: UI Automation Providers support will not degrade browser performance at all, and it will not impact web developers at all, either.

The only issue, I guess, is that UI Automation Providers requires Windows 7 or newer. It will not work with Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, or Android.

Microsoft will now document what it’s adding to Chromium via a new Microsoft Edge Explainers repository on GitHub. So this will be a good place to keep an eye to see what else the firm has planned for the new Edge browser.


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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Microsoft Targets Better Accessibility in Chromium”

  1. Pungkuss

    That was quick! How about a version that is not only for windows. Create a universal standard Microsoft.

  2. Tony Barrett

    No suprise there. MS propose 'UI Automation Providers'.... that only work on Windows. Mmmmm. I thought MS are 'all in' with other systems now. Sounds like the MS of old..

    Just be prepared for MS throwing out lots of blog posts about how great this is going to be for Edge and how devs will love the new features. What they don't say is; EdgeHTML failed, Edge failed, consumers weren't interested, devs walked away, but now, hey, MS are adopting Chromium, releasing Edge for older versions of Windows (MS mst *really* be grinding their teeth on that one), so it's all good again. Reality? It probably won't make any difference. Chrome will continue marching on, and their's nothing MS can do to stop it.

  3. meek_teef

    I hope Google rejects this. If a feature is not cross-platform, it has no business being in Chromium. That's a slap in the face of the community and the developers.

  4. sharpsone

    MS isn't wrong by implementing this into Chromium for Windows only, it's not cross platform because "others" like to work behind closed doors. If it works well maybe support will be extended but they have to start somewhere and for MS that start begins with Windows. We support a number of disabled users on Windows so this is a welcome addition to improve upon the experience. I hope Google approves to create a better end user experience regardless of platform.

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