Dragon 13 ARIA Support is Here!

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Written by: Jonathan Avila

Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 (both premium and professional versions) was released recently and adds support for the Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) specification. Dragon is speech recognition software that allows a user to dictate text as well as control their computer through spoken commands.

Dragon 13 tests for this post were performed using Internet Explorer 11 and Firefox 31 (with the Firefox Dragon extension) that is installed when Dragon 13 is run the first time with Firefox.

aria-labelledby

The aria-labelledby property allows authors to reference page content such as text as the accessible name for a control such as an input field. In Dragon 13 use of aria-labelledby is supported on edit fields, links, radio buttons, checkboxes, and possibly other controls. In addition, you can still use direct voice commands with the link text. This means that Dragon considers the text referenced by aria-labelledby as the accessible name of the control — this allows direct voice access by speaking this text. For example, if an input field has an aria-labelledby property referencing the text “email”, the Dragon user can say “click email” and the email edit field will be focused. Aria-labelledby does not appear to be supported for all controls — for example, my tests show it was not supported with buttons.

aria-label

The aria-label property does not appear to be supported. aria-label allows an author to specify an accessible name for a control directly as a string. In theory the Dragon use should be able to speak the string of text set in the aria-label property and the control would be focused or selected — but this is not the case.

ARIA Roles

Dragon commands to click controls such as buttons, links, radio buttons, checkboxes support ARIA roles. For example, a Dragon user can say “click button” and all controls with an ARIA role of button in addition to standard HTML input and button elements will be shown with numbers beside them for the user to choose. Dragon, however does not seem to support the role of listbox.

Other Notes

Dragon 13 still does not appear to support implicit labels. Implicit labels are html labels that wrap around controls such as input fields but lack use of the for attribute to explicitly associate the label with the field. Implicit labels have historically not been well supported with some assistive technologies but can be used to meet WCAG conformance if accessibility supported. This has meant that customers who have Dragon as part of the user agent supported technology stack for their WCAG conformance claims could not rely on implicit labels. Historically this was also the case for ARIA properties. With support for ARIA in Dragon 13 this will allow more flexibility to page authors to use ARIA and have it be accessibility supported in the future.

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