Home IT management Mozilla Touts ‘Significant’ Accessibility Performance Boosts In Firefox 113 Update

Mozilla Touts ‘Significant’ Accessibility Performance Boosts In Firefox 113 Update

Mozilla Touts ‘Significant’ Accessibility Performance Boosts In Firefox 113 Update


In a blog post published this week, Mozilla announced a significant update to its Firefox web browser. The new version, Firefox 113, includes an under-the-hood revamp to the software’s accessibility code such that the browser plays nicer with assistive technologies like screen readers.

The improvements build on Mozilla’s Cache the World project it began in 2020. The project was billed as “turbo-charging” performance and maintainability in Firefox with regards to accessibility support.

“Browsers are more complicated today than when Firefox’s accessibility engine was first designed, and the most significant overall change has been the move to security-isolated, multi-process architectures. With multiple isolated processes, screen readers had to do a lot of expensive work to retrieve and relay content to users,” Mozilla engineer Asa Dotzler wrote. “We were inspired by Chrome’s approach and extended it to improve Firefox’s accessibility performance; Firefox now provides a cache of all tab and browser UI content to screen readers in the browser’s parent process, where it can be used quickly and very easily.”

According to Mozilla, the “largest impact” of the work users will notice is on speed. The company says webpages open ten to twenty times faster than before, adding that more everyday tasks like using Gmail or switching channels in Slack is up to two to three times faster. More information on the technical nitty-gritty can be found in this blog post written by accessibility tech lead Jamie Teh, published last December.

“The Firefox accessibility engine is responsible for providing assistive technologies like screen readers with the information they need to access web page content. For the past couple of years, the Firefox accessibility team have been working on a major re-architecture of the accessibility engine to significantly improve its speed, reliability and maintainability. We call this project ‘Cache the World,’” Teh wrote in the post’s lede last winter. “In this post, I explain the reasons for such a massive undertaking and describe how the new architecture solves these issues.”

As Dotzler alluded in this week’s post, Firefox joins the ranks of more accessible web browsers, alongside Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari.

This week’s news completes the staggered release of the enhancements. Mozilla first shipped the update to Android customers last year with Firefox 102, followed by Firefox 112 for Windows and Linux. The advent of Firefox 113 for macOS “completes our rollout,” Mozilla said.


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