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.