Skip to Content

AxsJAX Brings Accessibility Features to Web 2.0

November 15, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I have just one critical question, my friends. Why haven't the "leading"
screen reader makers incorporated any of this technology into their
products? News
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
the code to come up with a common JavaScript framework for enhancing the
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.



Categories: Uncategorized

One opinion on “AxsJAX Brings Accessibility Features to Web 2.0

  1. I would suggest that as long as Google insists on only supporting FireFox none of the AT vendors will rush to support the feature. No matter how you cut it IE still has a majority share of the market and we are all waiting for that accessible IE support for web 2.0 applications to come on the seen. Don’t believe the hype. Let’s not get caught in the crossfire between Microsoft and Google about who’s Web 2.0 flavor will end up the standard.

    Let’s face it folks FireFox is not available in most public places and most of us blinks just want to use it because it’s a little bit quicker and also to just say that we can. While that’s all well and good, I would submit that a majority of the plug-ins your sighted friends rave about, under FireFox, aren’t accessible.

    I can’t speak for the other AT companies however we at Serotek don’t really have FireFox high up on our list of priorities. Take a trip through the world of Web 2.0 applications and you’ll see that many more work with IE than FireFox. We are currently beta testing our new SA Mobile browser and it’s working great. It’s IE under the hood,but with a lot less blote, and because IE is available on all computers it’s just one less thing we need to include when providing accessibility anywhere with SAToGo. Conversely we just dropped support for Mozilla in Serotek products as of a few months back because we didn’t really see the reason to support a code base that really didn’t matter to our users as long as they had web access. Again, I don’t know about the other companies but our customers tend to just want easy to use access and don’t really care about the label as long as it works and doesn’t require a bunch of learning and tweaking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.