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Accessibility: Towards a more inclusive web with Microsoft Edge and Windows 10

Windows has used the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) API since Windows 98 to express buttons, menus, text, and other on-screen content to assistive technology. Assistive technology vendors have used the MSAA API (along with other app-specific APIs like the DOM in IE, the Office Object Model in Office, and even scraping video drivers) to make text and interfaces more accessible. These techniques have the disadvantage of varying wildly between different applications and documents, which leads to a fragmented and unreliable experience. As user interfaces, documents, and the web significantly increased in complexity, Microsoft introduced the more modern UI Automation (UIA) API in Windows Vista as the successor to MSAA.

UIA was designed to expose more information about the user interface and structured documents, improve performance, and be portable across platforms. Because UIA replaces a variety of potentially unreliable and non-interoperable techniques with a single API, it reduces software complexity, allows developers to express novel UI concepts more easily, and improves stability and user experience consistency between web and native apps, across all types of assistive technology.

In Microsoft Edge, we are thrilled to finally have the opportunity to make the transition from MSAA to UIA, alongside enormous complementary investments in rearchitecting our DOM implementation and rewriting the browser interface from scratch. The change to UIA is our largest investment in browser accessibility ever, and it lays the foundation for a more inclusive web experience for users who depend on assistive technology in Windows 10. Because EdgeHTML is used throughout Windows 10 (inside Universal Windows Apps, in Cortana, etc.), these benefits will have an impact beyond the browser. Users will also benefit from the evergreen nature of the EdgeHTML engine.

curated by (Lifekludger)
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