Since we announced the release of IE7, we’ve noticed many questions and discussion about how well the program works with various screen readers and screen enlargers on the net. We wanted to provide the latest information we have from the various manufacturers of these products and answer some concerns around automatic updates.
As we announced earlier, IE7 is now being distributed via automatic updates.That said, no matter what setting a user has for automatic updates, IE7 will not be installed without the user making an explicit choice to install IE7. Users will be given a notification screen that has choices to install, get a reminder to install later or to skip the install. IE7 will not be installed unless the user gives consent to have IE updated and users do not need to make changes to their automatic update settings.
It is our suggestion that users of any assistive technology check with the manufacturer of their product about compatibility with any product and specific version. That said, we believe there are several shipping products or public betas that support IE7 today and those users should install IE7. For products that do not have an official version that supports IE7, we’ve tried to detail what issues the user will encounter. A user should assess the known issues with his or her comfort at working around the issues when installing IE7.
To some extent the experience a user will have with IE7 is dependent on the particular screen reader or magnifier version a user is running. There are several instances where a user can install IE7 today and be working with little or no problem. We believe that by the end of November, sooner in several cases, products that require an official IE7 version will have shipped. Below are details on some of the products we know people use with IE7 today.
JAWS8, due out in November, adds enhanced support for IE such as announcement of RSS feeds on web pages and improved navigation of web pages with dynamically updating content. JAWS 7.1, the current shipping version, works well with IE7 with the exception of drop downs on web pages that are expanded or that the user expands. JAWS 7.1 does not read the item with focus in these cases. Freedom Scientific plans to release a free update to JAWS 7.1 that fixes this issue in approximately a week. JAWS 7.0 and earlier have several problems including missing content from frames on web pages, characters occasionally lost when typing in edit boxes, the previously described issues around web drop downs and the fact that JAWS configuration files which add specific enhancements for IE do not load. Updating to JAWS 7.1 from JAWS 7.0 or the 7.1 patch is a free update. Please watch the Freedom Scientific home page for more details.
Window-Eyes 6.0, presently in public beta, will be the official version of the software to support IE7. We expect it to ship before the end of November. The biggest difference between 6.0 and 5.5 is that 6.0 automatically announces some of the newer security notifications for anti-phishing, secure and IDN web pages. Window-Eyes 6.0 also has better performance when loading web pages into the product’s browse mode with IE7.
Window-Eyes 5.5, the current shipping version, works without any blocking issues with IE7. Users will find that the program’s browse mode does not come on automatically if a web page sets focus to an edit box. In addition, browse mode can not be enabled when in an edit box on a web page. In both cases tabbing to another item on the web page makes browse mode available.
ZoomText 9.04 Magnifier and MagReader, is the official version to support IE7. Users running any ZoomText 9.X version can obtain a free update to version 9.04 using ZoomText’s update feature or via a download from the company’s web site. More details are available on the AI Squared update page.
ZoomText 9.03 Magnifier, works with IE7 today if the user makes a one-time change to IE’s Use Clear Type setting. The user must turn this off from the Internet Options dialog. This is found in Internet Options:Advanced Tab:Multimedia:Always Use Clear Type. ZoomText 9.03 MagReader App and Doc readers do not work correctly with IE7. The issues have been resolved in ZoomText 9.04.
Dolphin recently released updated map files to support IE7 with their 6.5 and 7.01 product versions. There is the possibility that users of the Dolphin products will experience a crash with IE7 but the fix is a one time rename of a file detailed in a Dolphin KB article.
There is a wide range of assistive technology for Windows and IE7 and this list covers only a few products. We welcome your feedback on your experiences with IE7 with the technology you are using. We’ll continue to work with the assistive technology industry on support for IE7 and future versions of the product.
Kelly FordIE Accessibility Team