Easier Browsing for the Blind and Visually Impaired in IE11

October 11th, 2013

Internet Explorer 11 makes browsing the Web easier for blind and visually impaired users who rely on screen readers, such as Windows Narrator. With the editing and input improvements in IE11, screen readers can better inform users about the current content of an editing region, and typing with East Asian languages using an Input Method Editor (IME) is now easier. With these changes, IE11 improves the experience of the next generation of cloud-based applications for a growing portion of the world’s population.

Notifications Keep Users of Screen Readers Better Informed

IE11 improves editing in e-mail and online Web document applications by notifying screen readers about both automatic and user-initiated text changes. Here are a few examples of the new notifications in IE11:

  • Auto-correct: Internet Explorer auto-corrects misspelled words. For example, if a user types “teh” in English, it will be corrected to “the.” IE11 adds a new notification so screen readers can inform users that auto-correct is happening.
  • Backspace: As a user types, the screen reader announces each keystroke. However, simply hearing ‘backspace’ announced is not particularly helpful because it is hard to know what is being deleted. IE11 notifies the screen reader which letter was deleted, so it can be announced.
  • Formatting: When reading or writing an email or other Web content, users need to understand the formatting of the message, not just the raw text. IE11 provides more detailed notifications to screen readers, so users can better understand the content they are reading or editing. For example, Microsoft Narrator says “bold” and “end bold” to let the user know that a section of text was emphasized with bold styling. You can try it out for yourself in Microsoft Narrator by enabling Verbose Mode using Caps Lock + A. This video demonstrates how Microsoft Narrator reads formatting information.

With IE11, screen readers can share text formatting details with blind and visually impaired users

Better Input with East Asian Languages

Input Method Editors (IMEs) are used to type East Asian languages using a typical English keyboard. For example, using the Japanese IME, a user can type a Japanese character phonetically (“su”), and the IME will display a list of candidates for the corresponding Japanese character (す). With IE11, screen readers can now read the candidate characters to the user. For example, in this video, Microsoft Narrator announces the list of candidates, along with the current target, as the user types “すし” (sushi). Users are also told when their candidate is finalized.

With IE11, screen readers can announce text input candidate characters from an IME

Web authors and users will get this functionality with all screen readers that have implemented the new capability.


IE continues to improve Web access for all users. With these new features, writing email and other documents is easier with IE while using a screen reader. Try it out now with Microsoft Narrator and IE11 on Windows 8.1. We look forward to receiving your feedback on Connect.

Ben Peters
Program Manager, Internet Explorer