Implementing a new feature in Gecko that may have an impact on accessibility? Ping the accessibility team and tell them!

This morning, Jeff Walden pinged me on IRC to ask me whether the new indeterminate DOM property for checkboxes that is being introduced in HTML 5 and which recently landed on Mozilla 1.9.2, has any accessibility implications. I did a quick check, and it indeed does have an implication: We don’t expose the partially checked checkbox state properly for html:input @type=”checkbox” yet.

Jeff then filed a bug on the issue, and I took on the task of exposing the correct state. It turns out to be a small fix that is needed to expose this extra state, so hopefully in a few days the sample page will work correctly in the nightlies.

This shows the importance of collaboration between the various backend and frontend teams and the accessibility team. Jeff was unsure, so he asked, and we “attacked” the problem right away, before it became a real problem, in the sense: We potentially release a product that has this not unimportant issue.

So if you implement something new in Gecko like new HTML 5 features, and you are unsure whether there could be any accessibility issues involved, I strongly encourage you to ping surkov, davidb or myself (MarcoZ) on IRC or shoot us an e-mail, or ask in the newsgroup. It may turn out to not be an issue, which is good. Or it may turn out that we have a work item to take care of, which is also good since this is not going to bite us out of nowhere in the future. Also, when the implementation is still new, we’re more likely to have the right fix in place with all memories still fresh.

Asking never hurts, so just ask once too often rather than once too less!


4 thoughts on “Implementing a new feature in Gecko that may have an impact on accessibility? Ping the accessibility team and tell them!

  1. I’m really, really sorry about that. I made a mental note to myself to ping you about that when it got checked in, but I got distracted by other work I was assigned to and it slipped out of my mind. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

  2. @Martin As you can see from the sheer number of comments on bug 78414 alone, and the number of dupes it has, this is much more complicated than just Flash content. Basically, this boils down to a Plugin API issue that needs to be dealt with with all parties in the same boat.

    The platform team told me a short while back that they’re working on a solution, but some of this may happen sort of behind the scenes, working and evangelizing with the plugin vendors to sort out the details and get this issue finally addressed.

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