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Support for longdesc in web browsers #809

nvaccessAuto opened this Issue · 7 comments

1 participant


Reported by rascaal on 2010-08-04 21:09
The reader successfully reads the alt but not the longdesc.


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Comment 1 by jteh on 2010-08-04 23:54
See this page for info about why there are better alternatives to longdesc:
There is a Firefox extension to make longdesc available to all users via a context menu item:


Comment 2 by johnfoliot on 2010-09-02 23:38
The issue surrounding ongoing retention of the longdesc attribute in HTML5 has produced a significant document at the W3C that outlines reasons, use-cases, etc. It also documents legal and policy requirements of various countries and corporations, as well as provides a long list of examples of usage in the 'wild'.

the URL can be found at: [key links from that document:

Some) - the majority of accessibility specialists in the W3C Accessibility Task Force urge for the retention of longdesc in HTML5.

[- which lists, among examples, the US FDIC, Hawaii's Public School system, Oracle, US National Cancer Institute Organizations mandated to use Longdesc, including The United Nations, French/Dutch/Quebec laws, and multiple US State and regional requirements.

Support in tools, AT or otherwise, is an important step in ensuring access: the larger problem today with longdesc is that due to poor browser support, authors did not create longdesc content - lack of content makes AT vendors and browser vendors presume that there is little desire or need. It is the classic chicken and egg story.

I do not feel authorized to change your bug status at this time (I respect that I am a guest), but I urge NVDA to take up this issue and implement support as soon as possible.



Comment 3 by jteh on 2010-09-02 23:52
To clarify my position on this: I have no problem with the idea of the longdesc attribute. However, I believe it should be discoverable to all users, not just users of assistive technology. This means that the right place to implement this is in the browser (where all users can access it), not in screen readers such as NVDA. Therefore, in my opinion, the Firefox extension cited above is the correct solution. Ideally, it should be integrated into the browser itself.

I do not want our support of this to be construed as support for the argument that this should be implemented in screen readers. If we do implement this, it will only be as a temporary solution because of the lack of support in current accessible browsers.


Comment 4 by jteh on 2011-03-01 11:57
See also MozillaBug:1996 and MozillaBug:314697 regarding requests to have this implemented in Firefox for all users. Doesn't look like anything is going to happen there, though. :(


Comment 5 by jteh on 2011-03-01 12:12
WebAIM's recent screen reader survey reports that over 60% of respondents find longdesc useful (26.2% find it "very useful" and 34.4% find it "somewhat useful").

It's also worth noting that you can already access longdesc for non-linked, non-clickable images with NVDA in Firefox if you press enter on the image. The presence of longdesc is not reported, however.


Comment 6 by jteh on 2012-10-18 00:24
Mozilla have decided not to support this for all users. (Imo, this is a bad idea, but that's off-topic here.) Given refusal to support by browser vendors and the fact that longdesc is particularly useful for screen reader users, we should implement this.
Changed title from "the longdesc attribute doesn't seem to be working" to "Support for longdesc in web browsers"
Milestone changed from None to 2013.1


Comment 7 by mdcurran on 2012-11-08 07:43
Implemented in 0ac840a. NVDA will announce the existance of the long description, and you can press NVDA+d to open it. Works in Gecko (Firefox) and MSHTML (Internet Explorer).
State: closed

@nvaccessAuto nvaccessAuto added this to the 2013.1 milestone
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