Using UI Automation support in Edge to build more accessible Web apps

Michael Cottuli

Microsoft is at it again, making an effort to live up to their mission statement: to empower everybody to do great things. In a recent blog post, Microsoft spoke about the effort it’s putting into Microsoft Edge, and how they want it to better serve the needs of people who have trouble surfing the web. Using UI Automation, a process which allows Windows 10 applications to “provide programmatic information about their user interface,” Microsoft Edge is creating a much more accessible browser.

In the blog post, Microsoft gave us the example of how they’re making text more legible in Microsoft Edge with the Windows 10 anniversary update. The update is going to change the way that high contrast mode makes things look for its users, offering a promising solution to the issues the visually impaired deal with while browsing on Edge. The most notable difference is a change in how contrasting text/background image colors are handled. In the past, background images were removed entirely to help people read the text. Now, the background image is spared, and instead, an opaque block of color is placed behind text so that anybody can read it.

Updated Edge elements.

Beyond that, here’s a brief look at what else Microsoft is working on to improve accessibility in the newest update to Windows 10:

  • Improving the UIA TextPattern reading experience based on user feedback
  • Enabling the web platform to take into account the “Text size” slider, available in Ease of access > More options on Windows 10 Mobile
  • Improvements to input controls and scrollbars in high contrast mode
  • Improvements to the text contrast ratios of controls
  • Improvements to touch and keyboard experience with Narrator on the web for desktop and mobile
  • Tweaks to the focus outlines to make finding and tracking elements in the browser easier

Hopefully, the lion’s share of these features is ready to go by the time Windows 10’s Anniversary Update finally finds its way to users devices. At the rate that Microsoft continues to work to make the effort to make technology accessible, there should be no doubt that they’re trying their hardest to squeeze all of this into the anniversary update