The Accessibility Bugs in OS X 10.11 El Capitan: From Serious to Minor
Apple has today released OS X 10.11 El Capitan. As with any major upgrade, it brings a number of exciting new accessibility features, but a number of new bugs have also been introduced. If you have not already upgraded, we strongly recommend that you read this list (and any user-submitted comments posted thereafter) before doing so, as we believe there are a number of bugs present in OS X El Capitan which may have a negative impact on the experience for some VoiceOver users.
At this point, it is worth noting that our testing of OS X 10.11 El Capitan has been somewhat limited; not all of our team uses Macs, and those who do have varrying levels of experience. Accordingly, we would greatly appreciate the help of other blind and low vision users--both to confirm whether they are experiencing the same issues we have reported here (or found workarounds), as well as to identify any issues we may have missed.
Of course, more important is that anyone experiencing accessibility issues submit reports directly to Apple's Accessibility Team by sending an e-mail to Accessibility@Apple.com, as Apple is ultimately the only one who can make these bugs go away. This post explains how to go about reporting accessibility issues to Apple, as well as what information to include in an effective bug report.
With all of the introduction out of the way, below are the bugs we have identified in our testing. As we have done with other recent releases, we have categorized the bugs based on their likely level of impact to VoiceOver users. Of course, how a bug will or will not impact your experience is often determined by your use case; nevertheless, we hope our categorization of the bugs will be helpful.
- If you have both VoiceOver's sound effects and Audio Ducking enabled, VoiceOver's speech will start ducking instead of any media. Disabling sound effects will make the problem a bit less frequent, it seems, but will by no means fix it. Unfortunately, disabling audio ducking is the only way to "fix" this problem. This issue appears to happen most when using Nuance voices, with the Alex voice exhibiting this behavior less.
- There are very major delays and lock-ups when using VoiceOver Activities tied to specific apps or websites if VoiceOver is using Nuance voices. With the Alex voice, there are few to no problems.
- When making a new event in Calendar, you may experience a significant amount of difficulty navigating around the dialog. Buttons appear and disappear at random, elements are "showing alternate items" even though they're not, tabbing doesn't do much at all, and focus jumps to the top of the dialog with no warning.
- Often, especially in password fields, VoiceOver will think that the VO keys are locked. Pressing tab from a password field, for instance, will often generate the response, "Ignoring next keypress," and trying to paste into the field will fail with the message, "Next visited link not found." Note that this is true not only in Safari, but anywhere OS X asks for a password. We have unfortunately not yet discovered a consistent way of working around this, short of restarting VoiceOver or hitting the VoiceOver modifier keys several times in a row.
- when inside the HTML area of Safari, VoiceOver nearly always fails to toggle Quick Nav with the left and right arrows. It seems like the arrows are captured as commands to move by character, even though they are pressed simultaneously. Enabling Quick Nav in other apps works as expected, thus letting you use the workaround of toggling it outside of Safari. It has been pointed out that pressing Caps Lock when it is set as a VO modifier will cause this problem, while pressing it twice to turn caps lock on or off then lets you use quick nav as normal. Pressing Caps Lock once, though, causes quick nav toggling to fail.
- With Grouping Mode set to "Bookend" or "Announce," VoiceOver can get stuck in a group. This is most easily seen in Safari: open a webpage and navigate it for a minute. Try to go to the start or end and use vo-arrows to leave the HTML Content or explore the rest of the Safari window. When you do, you become stuck in the webpage--VO simply loops around, instead of leaving. This has also happened with a Youtube video frame inside a webpage, or the HTML area of message history in Messages.
- In Mail, opening messages with the enter key should result in VoiceOver focusing on the message text and reading it, letting you arrow around or select things as necessary. In El Capitan, though, the old bug where VO instead lands on a scroll area has returned, and gotten worse and worse. This scroll area means you can't arrow through text, you can't interact once to move down to a place in the text and start a say-all from there, you can't select, you can't locate a link or attachment with the arrow keys, and so on. Even if you interact with the scroll area and then with the text inside it, regular arrow keys do not work. You must close and re-open the message multiple times before the text shows up as it should have in the first place. Sometimes--and this is specific to El Cap for me--you will even land on a toolbar, not the message scroll area.
- In Calendar, Voiceover used to announce how many appointments were on a day by saying "[date], x events, list". It now just says "[date], list". There's no longer an indication of how many events are on the day you are looking at in the grid.
- In Calendar, tabbing used to move from event to event, but that feature can now be very inconsistent at times. It may skip events, or VoiceOver could be silent on random events. Given that there's no way to see all events for a given date range in a simple list, tabbing was the best way to navigate and look quickly through upcoming events, and it no longer always does that.
- In Safari, on certain webpages, a commander set up to jump to next text field will skip the website's search field. With such a commander in place, open www.applevis.com, go to the top of the page, and run the command. VoiceOver will jump to the location bar, ignoring the text field on the page. We have found the same behavior with the search field on www.bookshare.org, and this problem appears linked to the text input bug in iOS9.0 where some text fields in Safari seem to refuse text. That is, the same fields skipped by VO commanders in this version of OS X are the ones that cause text input problems in the current version of iOS9.
- When tweeting something using OS X's tweet sharing screen, the character count is not visible to VoiceOver. VO sees the "Characters Remaining" label, but never actually reads how many characters you have left.
- If you activate a button from the Social widget in the Notification Center, you can't vo-arrow or tab around the resulting dialog box. You can type, but that's all. The main problem is that you can't move to and activate the "post" button to send your post on its way. In other words, VoiceOver's focus doesn't seem to move to the box that appears after selecting the desired button from the widget.
- In Reminders > New Reminder > Info, the "repeat" and "priority" popup buttons have no accessibility labels.
- Neither vo-f2-f2, nor vo-f1-f1, report the number of windows or apps open. Vo-f1 reports "[app name], x running applications", which is good. However, vo-f2 does not, and there's never any announcement of how many windows are open. This is with verbosity on high.
- When you type anything into Safari's address bar, pressing enter will always speak the first character you entered.
- Sometimes, cmd-shift-r in Safari will cause Safari to go "busy" for a few seconds before the Reader is activated. If this happens, VoiceOver does not see the page in Reader mode, but rather in standard mode. You must toggle the Reader off and then back on before VoiceOver will see it.
- In Safari, using compact Ava, do a search on www.duckduckgo.com. As you move by heading through the results, you'll hear "heading level 3, 2 items, [name of link]" as expected. Immediately following, though, you'll hear "c-h-e-c-k-e-d-c-h-e-c-k-b-o-x," spelled out exactly as written here.
- When you enable the Trackpad Commander with vo-clockwise rotor, no other gestures will have an effect until you press the VO keys again. Until you do, it seems that VoiceOver thinks its modifiers are still pressed down, because any other rotor gesture will try to toggle the Trackpad Commander again, and other gestures will fail entirely.
- Every time you move with any arrow key in a text field in Safari, you hear a click, sometimes a double click. This doesn't interrupt anything, but it can get annoying to listen to constantly.
- If you use cmd-up in a text field in Safari, you are moved to the first line, but it is not spoken. Pressing up arrow will not speak the line either; you must down arrow, then up arrow, to hear the first line.
- In Safari text fields, pressing enter speaks nothing, where is normally speaks "new line". Reviewing new lines with the arrow keys, or deleting them, causes VO to properly speak "new line", but inserting them does not.
If you're using a Vocaliser voice, some types of characters (I think it's just emoji) are sometimes spelled out. This usually happens when reading by character but I've also seen it during a read to end on a webpage. For example the Oliver voice reads a smiling face as Open bracket s, m, i, l, i, n, g, space, f, a, c, e, closed bracket. Seems to happen with all languages.
When I have my brailliant BI 40 connected over USB and wake up the macbook from sleep, VoiceOver doesn't sometimes pick up the display. If this happens, the only way to get it working again seems to be sleeping and waking the mac again
There is a focus tracking issue in the "social" notification centre widget that lets you post to social networks. If you press one of the buttons to bring up the compose window, the focus moves to it, VOiceOver tracks the keyboard cursor, but there's no way to get the VO cursor to move to it, not even with vo-shift-f4 (you get a click as if the focus was synced, but the VO cursor actually stays where it was). This is a problem because you can't tab out of the compose edit text, as tabbing inserts a tabstop. Workaround for now is to press ctrl-tab to move the focus to the other controls to actually send your message.
I'm not usually one to bash how buggy releases are - in fact in general I get pretty tired of it... But I have to admit, I'm troubled by how buggy it sounds like this release is. I think I'm particularly troubled because, from what I'm heard, El Capitan doesn't introduce a lot of functional changes, and is mostly under-the-hood improvements. If the functionality of the OS hasn't changed that much, I don't think there's an excuse for some of this bugginess. Hopefully some of these are user-specific, and aren't bugs across the OS at large - I'll wait to hear more from other early updaters.
VO Shift C is buggy, either copying the intended text, or the VO interaction, tip especially on webpages. This is even after ensuring I am on the text, and the last phrase was the desired text.
I have had a lot of difficulties with Quick Nav to engage or the Touch Pad Commander to work when either Caps Lock alone or Caps Lock and Control Option is selected for Voice Over. This especially holds true on websites, like trying to navigate by heading on a Google search, and you have to switch to another app and back to Safari to use Quick Nav properly.
To highlight a potential issue, please take note of the Audio Ducking issue above. This occurred to me during the initial install process of OS 10.11 Beta, and if its been resolved, great, otherwise, make sure you disable Audio Ducking prior to installing OS 10.11.
To touch a bit on the Social Media Widget issue, its a nightmare if you rely on this for quick posts, since even if you find your way onto the text box, you will not be able to find a way onto the post button.
At this point, I would recommend individuals really look at whether you need to update to OS 10.11 at the current moment.
I have no wish to be deliberately provocative, but these bugs present considerable challenges for a blind person using a Mac effectively and efficiently in this release software it appears. I have many friends who truly love the Mac, and I'm disappointed for them. I'm sure many of you look forward to updating your OS, but I fail to see how it would be advantageous as some of these are very counterproductive indeed. Hoping it is improved in short order, because these issues make using basic functions of a computer remarkably unpleasant according to this list.
Actually I do not. I won't upgrade on this one. I have done most of the previous upgrades for both my Mac and iPhone. However this upgrade... It is odd for so many bugs to be on a particular upgrade. For the moment, I will stay with OS X Yosemite. Until this is fixed, I will not upgrade to El Capitan.
hi has anyone had issues opening the app store when i do voiceover don't read nothing the only fix is to turn voiceover off and back on then its fine
On the other hand, allowing people to choose how much interaction is necessary is a welcome boost for some people I can imagine, and if these issues can be fixed promptly some of the accessibility specific improvements are commendable.
1. After page load, focus does not always land in thepage.
2. Attempting to interact with the page using VO+Shift+Down fails, though it is sometimes possible to tab into the page.
3. Once inside the page, attempting to navigate using VO+Right/Left is flaky. Focus sometimes locks onto an element, sometimes jumps past elements.
4. Web Rotor is not displaying all of the DOM elements.
5. No spoken feedback when entering text into some form fields, e.g. the search field on google.com or applevis.com.
Chrome Stable 45.0.2454.1010 & Canary 47.0.2523.0
OS X 10.11
MS Word has unexpectedly closed a number of times on my system. I see this issue is being widely reported elsewhere, so it is probably not VO related.
MS Word 2016 version 15.14.
OS X 10.11
Well yes, you will tend to notice these bugs.
I'll go out on a twig here and say that, while I'm still bitterly ungrateful about everything Apple does (naturally) El Capitan (and especially some of its new features) does make me happy. Several issues I personally reported have got fixed. As Alex says, the sure way to get Apple to care about the fact that the stuff they're adding is broken is to actually tell them.
1. In my somewhat limited testing of the calendar and Reminders apps, I did not find any issues or inconsistencies in the new event dialog or unlabeled elements in the reminder info window.
2. With the AppStore, I have been able to reproduce the issue where Voiceover fails to read the contents of the window, and have gotten it to work simply by command tabbing away and back. Focus is particular erratic in the updates panel, where pressing VO right arrow passed the, "Checking for updates," group causes Voiceover to say, "appstore window."
3. While writing this comment, I've noticed that when moving up, down, left, and right through what I've typed, Voiceover appears to speak the inputted characters twice, similar to a bug present in the early days of OS X Yosemite, albeit less consistent. Toggling Voiceover seemed to temporarily fix this problem.
Just a couple of small observations from the short time I've been using El Capitan:
1) I haven't had any issues toggling quick nav on and off with the arrow keys in safari.
2) Caps locks still works fine, just differently. If you press it quickly two times, it will turn on and off. I almost wonder if this is a feature and not a bug since it's easy to hit caps lock accidentally sometimes. If you just hit it once, it just silences text.
I just noticed that while editing text in a text box, VoiceOver doesn't pronounce "new line" when you hit return anymore. It also clicks every time you navigate through the text with your arrow keys... which is kind of annoying actually. Anyway, from some of the comments here, it looks like some of these bugs may be user specific or at least not across the board.
The caps lock thing is a feature. You can now use it as the VO modifier key. FInally!
I just did a quick test with youtube and audio ducking in safari. Playing a quick part of a lyric video, audio ducking worked just fine for me. I've got the Alex voice set for my VO.
I can confirm the Mail issue listed in the OP (moderate bug number 1). On my system VO rarely begins to automatically start reading the content of a mail message once opened. Sometimes Closing and reopening the message resolves this, sometimes it takes some back-and-forth with VO interaction to get it to start reading.
In addition, I am finding navigation within the Mail app to be slow when in classic view. There is noticeable lag when navigating through the mailbox and message lists. Interestingly, the same lag is not present in standard "modern" view. Same results with or without preview pane.
OS X 10.11
Hi all. I know that I said earlier that I wouldn't upgrade however… I saw a podcast on the new features of El Capitan, and I am not sure. What are your opinions. Should I wait, or should I upgrade right now? Thanks.
I am also not experiencing the quicknav bug in Safari using Alex voice on Macbook Air, 11 inch, mid 2013.
I have been testing El Capitan this summer and after putting it through its paces, I decided to upgrade my main system today.
I use a Macbook Air with the Alex voice with medium verbosity, as well as keyboard commander and an array of other minor settings. I've found it to be more responsive than Yosemite and some of the bugs on this list I have not been able to reproduce.
Some things, like activities, I could not test thoroughly, as I don't use them in my every-day life. I also don't use Nuance voices. I know that many times with new OS releases, Nuance voices tend to be hit harder with bugs, so if you use them, you might not want to upgrade yet.
I've found it to be quite usable and I've only noticed a few inconveniences to my daily use, which in my opinion and use case, are outweighed by the performance enhancements and new accessibility features.
I think I've figured out what causes the quick nav bugginess. Full disclosure: I don't currently have the caps lock key set as the VO modifier so I'm not sure how/if that influences this behaviour. When I hit the caps lock key once to silence text this morning, I tried using quick nav with the arrow keys afterwards. Much to my surprise, it wouldn't turn on in safari, exactly like the bug listed in this post. It wasn't until I hit the caps lock key twice to turn it on and then twice again to turn it off that I could toggle quick nav on and off with the arrow keys again. You may be able to do it after turning caps lock on, but I didn't try since... well, I didn't want caps lock on. :P
So I don't know if this will be the same for everyone, that's just what I've found on my end.
For people wondering if it's worth upgrading or not, I personally think it really is, just for the speed alone. This release has fewer bugs than Yosemite, or at least it feels like that to me.
Thanks, everyone, for all the feedback. The quick nav/caps lock thing is something I could reproduce, as is the problem with the social widget. I don't have a display I can test so can't confirm that one, but I'll add it. I haven't seen characters repeat in Safari, nor have I seen the new line fail to be spoken, but the annoying clicks as you move in edit fields are definitely there and are something I completely forgot to include. I'm watching the comments here, so keep posting anything you find. Please also remember to let Apple know!
I'm in the middle of a meerkat stream dismissing all of these bugs. At least that's my goal. If you miss it feel free to catch it on my youtube youtube.com/marrie125
Bugs encountered thus far with VoiceOver in El Capitan:
#1. There is a serious bug with the formant text-to-speech voices (Fred, Ralph, etc). When speaking text, speech frequently cuts off completely or goes mute for a couple of seconds before resuming. To see this, read the following line of text with VoiceOver set to Fred.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
VoiceOver should read the numbers one to ten but it is likely that part of that text will be muted before resuming.
This happens everywhere and is most noticeable when reading large chunks of text, as it is more likely that the text will be interrupted by this bug.
#2. Single-line text fields and multi-line text areas in web pages are all screwed up. You'll observe some of the following undesirable behaviors--some of these have already been posted:
* When tabbing to and entering text into a text field, attempting to interact with and navigate the text you just entered results in silence. This appears to be some sort of syncing bug where VoiceOver and the insertion point aren't in sync.
* In text areas, VoiceOver doesn't speak newline characters as you enter them. In addition, VoiceOver sometimes doesn't read newline characters when you attempt to navigate the text you enter into a text area.
* When you navigate past the end of the text in a text area, instead of simply hearing the boundary reached sound effect and/or a message saying that you've hit the end of text, VoiceOver reads the entire contents of the text in the text area. If the text area contains multiple lines of text, then successive commands to navigate past the end of the text area result in VoiceOver reading each line of text in the text area before finally reporting that you've hit the end of text. This works when navigating by character, word, or line.
Restarting VoiceOver helps to get VoiceOver back in sync with any text fields or text areas on the page. However, reloading the page puts VoiceOver back into the problematic state documented here.
#3. The Find Next/Previous Table commands in web pages no longer describe the dimensions of any found tables. Previously, VoiceOver would say something like "Table x columns, y rows." Now, VoiceOver just says "Table."
#4. For some reason, Apple reversed the Go To Top/End and Go To Visible Top/End commands. In all previous releases going back to VoiceOver 1.0, Ctrl-Option-Command-Home/End moved to the visible top/end of the thing you were navigating while Ctrl-Option-Command-Shift-Home/End moved you all the way to the top/end of the thing you were navigating. The Shift key "extended" the navigation to the extreme top/end instead of what was visible on-screen.
Now, the unshifted versions of these commands move to the extreme top/end of the thing you are navigating while the shifted versions move to the visible top/end.Performance-wise, VoiceOver in El Capitan
I am using Fred to type this, and used that voice to read your comment. I didn't notice anything off about that line of text, and so far, I haven't seen anything interrupted at all. You gotta love these random bugs! :) I also haven't seen the bugs you described with text fields in Safari. I've seen bugs with them, but not those ones yet. I don't use top/bottom commands enough to have noticed the reversal problem you described.
If anyone is also seeing any of these issues, please say so here in addition to emailing Apple. Thanks.
Didn't realize I had to rapidly press Caps Lock twice to turn it on or off. Locked myself out of my account as a result. Why didn't they leave things alone instead of creating new bugs? As a reltively new Mac user, situations like this make it hard to support a nice computer, but bug-ridden OS and especially adaptive software.
The caps lock thign is not a bug but a feature. That has been the case since 2010. See my youtube link I linked to where I give a lecture on what is considered a bug not a ture etc.
Okay, I've experienced this for a while ow. But does anyone who uses Alex notice that while using Voiceover, he usually doesn't speak the first symable of a new element, like on a page? If I could, I'd record this, but I don't have an app that can do that. Alex doesn't have much of a problem now with single letters, but elements on pages, links and text, trigger this. This only happy in Voiceover though, and I can't find one bit of text it always happens on, but it happens enough. The console didn't catch it, anyways, at least not that I know of. I'll report it to Apple, though.
Haven't seen anybody else mention this, so it may be one of those weird single-user bugs. Anyway, when I have quicknav enabled, and I switch between Finder and any HTML content, my quicknav rotor switches the setting by itself. So, if I'm in Finder and have quicknav set to "navigation", then switch over to safari and then back to quicknav, the rotor always resets itself to "window spots". Alternately, if I'm in Safari, and have my rotor set to "headings", or "form controls", or anything else, and then switch over to Finder and then back to Safari, the rotor always resets itself to "static text".
Anybody else experiencing this? It's not major, but really pretty annoying.
This happens to me as well. It Still hasn't been fixed in 10.11.1 either. Maybe write to apple accessibility and tell them about it. A similiar thing happens on iOS with the roter there as well.
In my opinion accessibility of OSX gets constantly worse over time. There are so many problems in Safari. Finder often crashes when I use it for a longer time. It often takes ages to restart VoiceOver. It's not good enough to do productive work. I'm using Windows a lot more then I used to...
Agreed although from 10.10 to 10.11 I have seen huge enhancements.
As for productivity, serious one, I would recomend windows but for stuff as daily life activities and media production mac is still better.
Why Windows is more productive?
Because a lot of combinations of browsers screen readers and other software is possible.
Whereas in Apple world you're left with one option of assistive technology .. and this option is not customizable (scripts) enough for us to make it better and Apple will not alone be able to overcome at what at least three different browsers with up to five different screen readers are able to do.
Now this is something expected, the more restrictive you get the less chances you have of finding something that will meet your very own expectations going.
If one chooses to use Apple stuff speciallyy on Mac this is a factor to be considered!
Even so I find some stuff incredibly better on Mac OS ... what I do is I am not slave of technology I use different things in several senarius.
I agree. Music production is a lot better then on Windows.
One of the negative examples is the navigation in Safari. It's great that we can use arrow keys to navigate through a site. But compare it to JAWS. There you press down arrow and you emediately get a response. VO is just too slow. It always gives me some kind of a very inconsistent feeling. It's like swimming instead of walking.
I've gotten the focus issue with the App store too, but at least on my system it eventually seems to come back on its own after a few minutes. Additionally, Command-Tab twice has sometimes worked for me.
I use Alex to read back to me passages in a book I am writing. This is invaluable in finding mistakes and judging the tone of what I write. Since El Capitan I've been really frustrated that Alex cuts out words or cuts them off early. At least I now know this is a bug in El Capitan not just my Mac. What are the chances of this being fixed?
I've noticed this too, but I'm willing to bet that at least for me this is a memory issue. I've checked my hard-dis storage and a few people with working eyeballs have now confirmed that most of my disk space has been taken up with audio. This was also confirmed last week by the person with whom I met at the Genius Bar. Given that Alex is rather memory-intensive, I'm wondering if people with a lot of stuff on their Apple devices are getting these speech cutouts. Jmt. As for me, I'm definitely getting an external drive and I'll see if this cuts down on the speech issue. Lately though it has been somewhat less of an issue for me.
I've not seen this in the lists or comments. However, when I set my own Webspots in Safari, then close Safari, re-open it and go the page I set the Webspot I'm told no Webspots present. The auto Webspots are there, but my Webspots aren't. A friend told me this is a known bug and just doesn't work anymore in El Capitan. Is this correct?