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Navigation and links Screen reader compatibility

Last updated: May 20, 2018

Screen reader compatibility for HTML navigation and links, showing how failures and techniques work in specific screen reader / browser combinations.

The results include two types of test:

Reliability by user agent

The solid area in the graph shows percentage of tests that pass in all tested interaction modes. The cross hatched area shows partial passes that only work in some interaction modes. An example of a partial pass is when form labels are read when tabbing, but ignored in browse mode.

JAWS IEJAWS 17.0.2619 with IE11 
JAWS FirefoxJAWS 17.0.2619 with FF48 
NVDA IENVDA 2017.3 with IE11100%
NVDA FirefoxNVDA 2017.3 with FF60100%
VoiceOver MacVoiceOver OSX 10.12 with Safari 10.1.2100%
VoiceOver iOSVoiceOver iOS 10.3 with Safari iOS 10.3100%
WindowEyes IEWindowEyes 9.2 with IE11 
Dolphin IEDolphin SR 15.05 with IE11 
SaToGo IESaToGo with IE110%
Average Including older versions 78%

The average includes all versions, but some browser/AT combinations have tests for multiple versions (NVDA / JAWS / VoiceOver), while others only have tests for a single version (SaToGo and Dolphin).

Reliability trend


Expected to work

These tests use conformant HTML or WCAG sufficient techniques and might be expected to work in screen readers. This doesn't always happen.

Screen ReaderNVDAJAWSVoiceOverWin-EyesDolphinSaToGo
Should work. Fails in 1% - 25% A element placeholder link with no event handler or HREFGoodGood GoodGood Bad

Expected to fail

These tests use non-conformant HTML or WCAG failures and are expected to fail in screen readers.

Screen ReaderNVDAJAWSVoiceOverWin-EyesDolphinSaToGo
Should fail. Fails in 51% - 75% A element with ONCLICK but no HREFBadBadBadBadBadBadBadBadGood
Should fail. Fails in 76% - 100% A link TARGET opens in new windowBadBadBadBadBadBadBadBad
Should fail. Fails in 51% - 75% A link with empty labelBadBadBadBadWorseBetterWorseGood
Should fail. Fails in 76% - 100% A link with non-breaking space as labelBadBadBadBadBadBadBadBadBad


Tests expected to fail (due to authoring errors) are marked with Expected to Fail.

Test notes

All tests were carried out with screen reader factory settings. JAWS in particular has a wide variety of settings controlling exactly what gets spoken.

Screen readers allow users to interact in different modes, and can produce very different results in each mode. The modes used in these tests are:

In the «What the user hears» column: