Browser Comparisons

We are fortunate to be in a time when there are so many different web browser options to choose from. However, most of us will only use the browser built into our computer or mobile device. This blog compares the web accessibility features of common computer internet browsers – Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox.

These internet browsers have a lot in common. But we have a few things for you to consider based on your vision loss needs.

Zoom 

With Chrome and Microsoft Edge, you can easily zoom in on a web page to make the print more readable. Both browsers allow you to increase the text size to 500 percent. Each of browser allows you to increase the zoom in 25 percent increments until you reach 200 percent zoom. After which, it will jump in 50 percent increments. 

Firefox has inconsistent increments – 110 percent, 125 percent and 135 percent. The maximum zoom is only 300 percent.

The standard zoom key combinations work in all three browsers. Use the CTRL and the plus key to increase the zoom and the CTRL and the minus key to decrease it. Mouse users can hold the CTRL key and use the mouse scroll wheel to quickly increase or decrease the zoom. Specific zoom settings can be completed through the options menu.

Modifications to color and contrast

Previous versions of the Microsoft browser gave you more flexibility in setting your display settings to a wider range in background, foreground and text colors. This function is called inheritability features. These features made color background modifications that crossed over to all of your web pages and Microsoft apps such as Word and Excel. Microsoft has some built-in features but not at the level we saw previously.

High-Contrast Mode can assist with viewing some of those color combinations on hard-to-read pages. To enter this mode 

  1. Press Left Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen buttons. You will hear an audible beep and a prompt will appear asking if you want to turn on the High Contrast mode.

  2. Press Enter to access the mode. 

To exit the High Contrast Mode, press the Left Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen buttons, then you will hear the beep again and the screen will revert to its previous settings.

While Microsoft Edge has some interesting web accessibility features, they are working on an Immersive Reader which will allow the user to modify web page colors, line spacing, alignment, and font styles. The downside is pages must be specifically designed for this feature to work. In testing, we only found one or two pages on the Microsoft site that actually worked with the Immersive Reader. 

Firefox is the best browser for inheritability features and color modifications. Firefox strips away the formatting and replaces it with the desired font size, style, and color combinations you want. So if the combination that you see best is black with a bright green print, you go for it. 

To access the Firefox settings menu:

  1. Press Alt + T to access Tools or left click on Tools

  2. Press S for Settings or click on Settings

  3. Type “font” in the search field to access your font and color settings

  4. Tab through the fields to access setting Note: To change the color settings the mouse must be used to access the color picker. 

Text size

In Firefox, you can use the above steps to change the font style and size. For example, if you want all the font on every web page to be an Arial 16pt font, you can make it the default font.

Similar features are also available in Microsoft Edge and In Chrome and the process to access the font features are the same.

Screen reading

If you are not using Jaws or NVDA and you find your eyes fatigued from eye strain Microsoft Edge has a feature called Read Allowed. Click the Immersive Reader button in the address bar next to the URL of the article. You can also press F9 on your keyboard.

Keyboard functions

All of the browsers share basic functions. For example, saving, printing and opening new tabs are very similar. Where the team really noticed the difference is in how you save bookmarks and favorites and access the browser history.

Outlook Enrichment’s adaptive technology trainers can show you how to efficiently use the web accessibility features with limited vision. Anyone with vision loss can come to Enrichment’s open lab every Friday from 2-4 p.m. You can also schedule an appointment at a time that works for you.

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