Opened 5 years ago

Closed 3 years ago

#809 closed enhancement (fixed)

Support for longdesc in web browsers

Reported by: rascaal Owned by:
Milestone: 2013.1 Component: Browse mode
Keywords: Cc:
Blocked by: Blocking:


The reader successfully reads the alt but not the longdesc.


<img alt="The Google Story" longdesc="googlestory.html" src="googlestory.jpg" />




<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en">

<title>The Google Story</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />




The Google Story: An inside look into one of the World's
greatest technology startups.



Change History (7)

comment:1 Changed 5 years ago by jteh

  • priority changed from major to trivial

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 Changed 5 years ago by johnfoliot

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:

Some key links from that document: - 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 Changed 5 years ago by jteh

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 Changed 5 years ago by jteh

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 Changed 5 years ago by jteh

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 Changed 3 years ago by jteh

  • Component changed from Core to Browse mode
  • Milestone set to 2013.1
  • os Windows XP deleted
  • priority changed from trivial to minor
  • Summary changed from the longdesc attribute doesn't seem to be working to Support for longdesc in web browsers
  • Type changed from defect to enhancement

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.

comment:7 Changed 3 years ago by mdcurran

  • Resolution set to fixed
  • Status changed from new to closed

Implemented in changeset:0ac840a8a14ebe18f25b7392d13077b8391f97e8. 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).

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