I have just one critical question, my friends. Why haven't the "leading"
screen reader makers incorporated any of this technology into their
Thursday, November 15, 2007
AxsJAX Brings Accessibility Features to Web 2.0
By Scott Gilbertson
Google Reader's recent makeover wasn't just skin deep. Most people probably
didn't notice it, but the revamped Google Reader also added an accessibility
layer which makes the app screen reader friendly.
Web 2.0 sites may be slick and easy to use for most people, but such sites
often lack accessibility support, making them difficult, if not impossible,
to use with screen readers and other assistive technologies.
In an effort to improve accessibility on AJAX-heavy websites, Google
recently released the framework behind the new Google Reader tools as an
open source project dubbed AxsJAX. The code has been reworked and most of
the Google-specific features removed, which means it should work for just
about any site that chooses to use it.
AxsJAX is designed to enhance the accessibility of AJAX applications.
Charles Chen, who added the accessibility features to Google Reader and
develops Fire Vox, an assistive device friendly add-on for Firefox, writes
on the Google Code Blog:
Based on the experience of access-enabling Reader, we have now refactored
accessibility of AJAX applications. This framework is called AxsJAX, and it
was refined in the process of access-enabling Web Search.
We're now excited to open-source this framework since we believe that there
is nothing Google-specific in the techniques we have implemented. We invite
the Web developer community to help us collectively define a robust
framework for rapid prototyping of accessibility enhancements to Web 2.0
AxsJAX features can be accessed by users in several ways: as a bookmarklets,
using Greasemonkey or through Fire Vox. The underlying code implements the
W3C's WAI-ARIA spec (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet
Applications). Rather than simply providing assistive device users with a
non-AJAX page as is the standard practice, ARIA makes the results of AJAX
calls accessible to screen readers. Check out the ARIA roadmap for more
If you'd like to know more about the AxsJAX framework, have a read through
the documentation on the Google Code project page.