Working with Live Regions

What is a Live Region anyway?

Live regions are areas on a web page which are changed through JavaScript rather than a full page refresh. It can be used on finance sites to show real time stock price changes, on sports sites to show the score and player stats as a game is being played, etc. This has the advantage of not making users lose track of their place when an update happens, but it has the disadvantage of not informing screen reader users that a change has taken place.

The W3C has a working draft for markup that web developers should use to tell screen readers how their live regions should be handled, but as this markup is still very new, it is not in widespread use yet. Fire Vox already has support for the major parts of this new markup and more support is currently being added. However, in order to be as useful to end users as possible, Fire Vox also has some heuristics to do something sensible with web pages which are not tagged with this markup.

Toggle Live Region Announcements

Users can toggle live region announcements; the default is Ctrl + Shift + Y. There are three different modes for working with live regions: Default Live Region Announcements, Tagged Live Region Announcements, and No Live Region Announcements. Default Live Region Announcements will apply some heuristics to try to handle live regions as sensibly as possible. Please bear in mind that these are only best effort heuristics; it is possible for the web page to be speak more than it should or say things with insufficient context. Tagged Live Region Announcements will not apply any heuristics; instead, this mode will follow the W3C standard strictly, with untagged live regions being silenced. No Live Region Announcements will turn off live region announcements entirely.


Additional notes

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