Opinion: Safari for Mac is a car crash for accessibility?

macOS and Mac Apps


Each time it happens, I swear to myself, If I hear the word 'busy' just once more, my flat little friend is turning into a Frisbee and entering the harbour beside my house at high velocity. It's a problem that I've encountered for years and, as with many things that we have to face, after a while, you give up hope that it will ever be fixed and simply learn to live with it...

I've encountered it so many times but, eventually, after the time it takes to swear revenge on Apple, it tends to work. Now, I'm not sure if it is my internet connection (Though every connection I've used I get the same result) but, case in point:


Damn, that took me ages to grab... And times on Amazon of all places. I don't know about these things but I think it might be problems with java. But, thing is, I shouldn't have to turn off java to have a comfortable browsing experience.

As well as this, there is erratic behaviour when tabbing through the page, jumping lines, reading with a voiceover focus and not actually being able to read the spelling of the words highlighted... It just feels like a mess to me. Okay, maybe I'm not doing it quite right but, god damn, it's apple, it's meant to be user friendly. I shouldn't have to tinker or slip on my nerd cape to sort these things... 'out of the box accessibility' is what we expect.

Sorry to rant, but as I'm sure you understand, it is frustrating when some websites simply don't work.

What are your views? Do you find safari accessibility a headache, or do you get on fine? Do you have any tips for faster browsing and assimilation of information? Please, let me know.



Submitted by mehgcap on Sunday, April 16, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I went to the link you provided, and wow, was that bad! I had to close the tab, which took a while to do, just to get Safari back to normal. I even tried reader mode (cmd-shift-r), but that didn't help. I don't have Java enabled as far as I know, either.

That said, this is the first site I've seen do this, so at least in the parts of the web I use, it's not a problem. But I can at least tell you it's not the connection (I'm using a 50 mbps one with an AC router and good signal). It's also not the computer, as I'm on a 2016 MacBook Pro. Sorry I can't offer more help. All I can say is to get a list of sites that routinely cause this problem and email it, with a strongly-worded letter, to accessibility@apple.com. I know that seems generic and unhelpful, but they really do listen to the feedback sent there. Feel free to tell them you had your findings, at least on the site in your post, confirmed by me, if you like.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Sunday, April 16, 2017

Thanks for your reply. Glad to know it's not localised to just my experience. As I'm sure you know, it's most frustrating when we're already struggling to get to the meat of a webpage, hoping for headings, or having to tab/VO navigate through a storm of nonsense. Yeah, reader is great, would be awesome to have a reader mode where it is constantly on so the double load of a page isn't needed.


Submitted by Ekaj on Sunday, April 16, 2017

Safari works fine for the most part on my end. I'm using a mid-2013 MacBook Air running the latest build of OS Sierra. That said, I have run into the occasional site which takes ages to fully load. These tend to mostly be news websites with a lot of flash content. I have had slightly better luck with these sites in Google Chrome, but still they're not great. Unfortunately, I can't offer up any advice other than what Mehgcap said. I think the problem here is that in many instances, flash just doesn't play nice with screen readers in general.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Thursday, April 20, 2017

and just when you think this is bad enough, switching to Chrome generally solves the problem. someday i might just switch to chrome completely, then you can all call me an infidel, hahaha.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, April 20, 2017

Unfortunately I find crome rather vexing, there is too much going on to tab through though maybe that is just me and my setup. At least you can make safari a little more minmalist

Submitted by Jesse Anderson on Thursday, April 20, 2017

I don't use the Mac or Safari all that much, but do use Safari on IOS daily.

You may want to try using an ad blocker for your browser of choice. I have been using AdBlock Plus on Windows, and Peace on IOS. You can't get Peace any more, but there are loads of other ones. I have also tried AdGuard and Crystal. There is a version of AdBlock Plus for the Mac, but I haven't tried it yet.

You may want to try one of these for a couple reasons. A lot of the extra flashy crap on websites are often ad related: Java applets, flash content, annoying overlays, etc. This might make your pages load quicker in general. Also, I noticed a significant speed increase when using a screen reader, on a computer or mobile. It's less for the screen reader to process before the page is ready to be read.

Submitted by Pa. Joe on Thursday, April 20, 2017

I almost never hear the word busy. Amazon's web site is often problematic to me unless I use the optimized settings for screen readers. You just must be lucky or something. Also, I can't help to point out that you are the first person I have encountered that needed to cuss to make your point on this public forum.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, April 20, 2017

You mention optimised settings? Are these available through the amazon site?

Indeed, I do dabble with the more colourful lexicon to make my point.

Submitted by dvdmth on Thursday, April 20, 2017

Club AppleVis Member

I just tried the link provided on my 2012 Mac mini, and the page loaded and responded just fine in Safari. That was with a content blocker installed. I then reloaded the page without any content filters, and Safari became very sluggish. I do not have Flash or Java enabled in Safari, but the video on the page still played automatically, which is something I hate about desktop browsers.

On iOS, the page also caused Safari to act sluggishly when the content blocker was disabled, but not to the same extent that it happened on my Mac. The video does not autoplay on iOS, but that's typically the case.

If you don't have an ad blocker installed, I highly recommend one. I also recommend disabling Flash and Java unless you absolutely need them, because they are both a security risk. Doing these things will substantially improve Safari's performance. For me the only time Safari is sluggish is when I first launch the app, after which it behaves very nicely. There are a few pages where navigation is tricky, but that isn't necessarily Safari's fault.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Friday, April 21, 2017

Yeah, I do know that it is often the web developer who has coded badly, tried to get too much info in there and poor little VO panics.

I'm not sure how one turns off flash? And trouble is, java is needed for some things like Facebook chat.

One work around I'm playing with is, in the development menu, changing the user agent to iPhone. This seems to simplify the page and make it a lot more manageable.... However (there is always a however), FB messenger won't work as it wants you to load the IOS messenger app. Think I'll just set up croam with that and have it as a chat interface.


Submitted by LaBoheme on Saturday, April 22, 2017

personally, i use the regular site on amazon. i prefer full function. although the screen reader optimized site on amazon is pretty good, one never knows what one's missing.
yes, it is somewhat annoying when the site has so much dynamic live contents, but it is not unmanageable. but then i thought i ought to practice what i preach, so i tried chrome this morning when i shopped, and i have to say the experience is so much better.

apple should really work harder with their software, chrome overtook internet explorer for a reason.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Saturday, April 22, 2017

Yeah, so we can't get that site over here. When I use the full site and try jumping through headings I end up in a loop and not actually proceeding further than 3 or 4 headings in the list of many headings.

Yeah, chrome is pretty good but then there is the text entry issue where you get 0 feedback when typing in an edit box. If they can get that sorted, I'd probably migrate full time.