Why are most web browsers so frakking inaccessible?

I have severe sensory issues, so those are the issues that attract my attention. In this regard, most web-browsers:

  • Enable autoplay of music, video, etc.
  • Enable animated backgrounds.
  • Do not include tools to disable autoplay and animated backgrounds.
  • Require separate add-on tools to disable autoplay of flash videos, of animated gifs, etc.
  • And keep breaking these tools when they update!

In addition, many websites:

  • Break when we set the browser to use our preferred fonts and our preferred font sizes. For example, icons break here, and words start overlapping on some sites.
  • I use OpenDyslexic because it is elegant and easy-to-read. I get enough headaches from everything else without adding eyestrain.

Also there’s no way to close the phoning “your topic is similar to” sheet, if the top of the sheet goes past the top of the window.


You can disable animated GIFs in Firefox by using about:config and changing the value of string image.animation_mode from normal to none.

I believe there are similar built-in methods in Chrome and Internet Explorer.

In general it’s not the browsers that are autoplaying, it’s the 3rd-party plugins, like Flash (Youtube, etc.) that are auto-playing.

However, many newer pages and browser use HTML5 video tags which allow for the attribute autostart='true'; However, that’s up to the web-developer to set, not the browser (see my next response).

That’s not the browser – that’s the web-page designer building it wrong. Browsers can’t fix broken pages.

In general, web designers are crap for building for accessibility. The only way to fix that is to complain to the websites in question. And in other forums. Like here, I suppose.


So how do I get rid of whatever plugin enables phoning animated yifs?

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Uh… I don’t think I’d like to hear or see that.


… animated gifs, they’re all over the place.

And unfortunately Firefox documentation and help are an utter mess, the help site needs a phoning help site. But since web-browsers don’t work at all without some way to block autoplay, I don’t understand why they don’t include these things in their basic features, settings, etc.

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See the first paragraph of my initial reply for stopping GIF animations in FireFox.


See the second paragraph of my reply. How am I to figure out what “using about:config” means without a usable support site to explain what “using about:config” means? And Mozilla’s is not a usable support site.

Open a new tab, type about:config into the address area

In search type or paste in image.animation_mode

Double-click the result

Change normal to none


@OtherMichael, you’re a mensch for walking her thru that. I had the same troubles understanding what was meant by about:config when I first was told to use it, but somehow I eventually figured it out with enough googling. so much of computing is assumed to be understood by those who do understand it, they forget that even alleged helpful instructions are dependent on layers of understanding.


Boy howdy. It was only during last year’s Badass Dragons of the Wasteland game that someone (in this case, @penguinchris) explained to me how to grab a screenshot using the Prtsc key I’ve had on every single computer I’ve owned going back to Bill Clinton’s first term. I just thought that button never worked, since nobody ever told me before that the key just copies what’s on to the screen to the clipboard, and you actually have to paste it into an image. OMG, I felt like such a dunce for not having known that for twenty years!


TIL there is a Prtsc key that screencaps to clipboard :^)

Been a while since I’ve used a PC, but I’ve definitely used them–even exclusively, for a couple years there–and I never knew it was even there, let alone what it does. computing can be humbling sometimes.


I can never remember the Mac equivalent, I have to look it up every single time. OptionCommand-Shift-4, or something?

For added excitement, alt-Prtsc just copies the current active window.


cmd+shift+3 is the full screen, or 4 gives you the crosshairs to drag over specific stuff.


and if you just want a single window, you can press the spacebar when the crosshairs show up, and click on the window.


oh, far out!

Sounds like a great topic, but let’s keep THIS ONE to web-browsers and accessibility!

See: Print Screen and Other Delights

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First, define accessibility in fashion that is understandable to both developers and users. Documenting your experiences is part of that.


I am quite opinionated about browsers and web experience as well. As computers have become more powerful, and bandwidth cheaper and more plentiful, there has been a trend towards bloat and frivolity.

My deal is that I don’t mind some plugin content within the page - but I need the page itself to remain static. It completely bugs me out to try reading or clicking UI elements and have them move around the page. I need my pages rendered still and rather flat - with actual links instead of everything scripted. When I got into the internet in the 90s, it seemed to me that the purpose was to make access to information easy. This meant things like real directory structures. This experience was at odds with a more corporate, top-down approach of directing the users experience. So now I put up with sites which are 95% pictures, and look and read like big-print books for young children. Sorry, I don’t speak “picture-ese”.

Using a plugin such as noscript for Firefox restores much of the control to the user, but is also inconvenient, because you then see how much your experience being hijacked is taken for granted. It’s not unusual for a site to not work, and be expecting you to automatically connect to 20-30 other sites. It would be helpful if they bothered to inform the user, such as “this bit of our content is hosted by Akamai” or such, but I have never seen anybody do this. Instead, they all assume that your browsing is going to be insecure and promiscuous. Also, I dislike browsers telling sites which page I am viewing, or what part of them I am reading - just load the page, and let me deal with it. Also, I think “just-in-time” page loading is bloody awful for accessing data. I hate leaving a page and needing to reload 26 pages to get back to one bit instead of loading it as a discrete page directly,

I recommend checking out text-based browsers such as Links, Elinks, Lynx, etc. They avoid a lot of clutter, speed page loading, and are easier to drive from the keyboard without mousing around. I do think that markup-based browsers offer more readability and formatting options than raw text - and I wish more sites would offer such things with cleaner, better typographical layouts.


I still haven’t figured out which ghostery setting lets me read the Kinja comments on io9 and jezebel.


The last time I tried NoScript, in a week of use, the only Webpage I could find that didn’t use extensive scripting was one I’d created myself.

I used to get angry about how HTML was distorted from its original design intent. The premise of HTML, following from SGML of which it is an instance, is that you markup text according to semantics, and leave it to the end user’s display device to determine how to display things. One of the explicit reasons for this was to ensure accessibility.

The “browser wars” are usually blamed for a lot of the distortions of HTML, but even before those really got going, you’d see glossy books on Web design mocking the nerds who invented HTML for failing to include tools for designers to control the user’s experience – pretty much missing that the point was to prevent designers from controlling the user’s experience. In those glossy texts, of course, it was made clear that the point of controlling user’s experience was for marketing purposes. After all, if something doesn’t serve the purposes of the market, what use is it?

Some of the damage was undone, at one level anyway, by adding CSS as an optional layer to determine display, but that’s pretty complex, and not really all that optional in practice. More significantly, often HTML pretty much just serves as a framework for delivering scripted Web apps. My experience with NoScript and similar tools is that not even apparently barebones text-based Websites are usable with scripting disabled – simple navigational elements tend to depend on scripting, with no fallback option.