Accessibility, Web

Newest Browsers Vivaldi and Brave Missing Key Feature

brave and vivaldi browsers logo

Two former big bosses of popular browsers are at it again, taking the helm of new browsers.

Brendan Eich, literal father of JavaScript, and former co-founder of Mozilla, has recently released Brave, a new browser aimed at increasing privacy and security for its users.

Similarly Jon von Tetzchner, former co-founder of the Opera Browser, just released his new browser Vivaldi, which is supposed to be made for power users, or users that expect a lot of customization. It is described as having so many features that extensions/ plugins are not required.

Being two former co-founders of well-known browsers and releasing brand new ones that cater specifically to user needs are not the only things in common. Unfortunately, these browser are also not accessible to screen reader users. At least in my personal quick tests. If I am wrong, please correct me.

I tried both browsers with VoiceOver on MAC and with NVDA on Win 7. Other than announcing the window, not much else was possible in either.

I know screen reader users that would like a more secure browsing experience. They could also be considered power users. Why would they not be included? If companies can be sued for not having accessible websites, what should happen to browsers that are not accessible? If I have to develope against WCAG 2.0, shouldn’t browsers developer against UAAG 2.0?

I realize that this blog is not the poster child for web accessibility, but it is something I am working on little by little. WordPress, and templates, and PHP – just not my thing.

Now, I am not wishing litigation on anyone, but it is frustrating considering the amount of time spent to make the web more accessible to users with disabilities, to just be nullified by an inaccessible browser. This is going back to the days when browsers didn’t care enough to respect web standards. I know there are other options out there and I am probably being a little melodramatic, but at what point should we expect the same accountability of everyone?

I will not hold it against Brave, as it is currently in beta at version 0.8. I am kind of shocked it is not already built-in, and their official development timeline does not include any accessibility features, but there is still time I guess. Vivaldi on the other hand has no excuse. They made a big splash announcing the release of version 1.0. They consider this prime time.

The interesting thing to me is how both of these browsers are being developed. Brave is using a fork of Electron while Vivaldi is using React. This is some Inception type stuff, using web technologies to build a browser to browse the web. I love it! As a front-end developer, it’s extremely exciting to me that my knowledge in web technologies can go to such lengths. As an accessibility professional though, I am not sure how these browsers will ever be supported by current screen readers unless they have some kind of bridge to accessibility API’s. The only route I see at the moment is custom screen readers via extension, like ChromeVox for Chrome, or maybe it’s packaging WebReader as an extension. There are rumors of Brave supporting extensions in the future, but Vivaldi claims to be so advanced and user-configurable that it does not need extensions. Building a screen reader will take a while, and it will probably not be as good as it needs to be. Building some kind of bridge will probably be the best, most reusable path to go forward with.

In the end, I am extremely excited by the innovation of new browsers, and the web technology that is driving them under the hood. But, can we do it in such a way that is advantageous to ALL users?

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