Internet Explorer 9 released with accessibility bug

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011 16:01pm

Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft’s newest version of its web browser, was released with an accessibility bug that may prevent people with a vision impairment from using it effectively.

The bug affects the browser’s ‘ignore colors of the website’ feature, which is designed to remove the background and font colour of a website and allow the user to replace it with a preferred colour scheme. The feature is not implemented in the same way as previous versions of Internet Explorer or other browsers such as Firefox, instead resulting in possible inaccessible colour contrast ratios and brightness differences.  

The feature should allow background colours to disappear for higher contrast, aiding people with a vision impairment to effectively access the content. Our hands-on tests across three different computers suggest that the problem is that the setting changes the colour of the font, but doesn’t remove the background colour, resulting in situations where the text can become the same colour as the background, rendering the website inaccessible.  

The browser has seen some accessibility improvements, despite the bug, with the use of the upcoming HTML 5 standard having significant implications for accessible video playback and WAI-ARIA support. 

The new ‘minimalist’ look of Internet Explorer 9 is also a change that may improve its accessibility for people with vision, cognitive and mobility impairments. The bar at the top has been simplified and emphasised. There is now a larger back button and tabs at the top are all part of one bar, unlike in Internet Explorer 8.

Other previous access features have been retained including font size adjustment and keyboard navigation.

While Internet Explorer 9 shows improved accessibility features to the interface and HTML 5 support, as well as being faster and more advanced than the previous version, the current accessibility bug will affect the ability of people with a vision impairment to use the browser.

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