The latest and greatest Dragon Naturally Speaking (version 13) finally catches up, at least partially, with a critical web standard: WAI-ARIA.

Earlier this year at Edge Conference (London), I (like many others before me) called out Nuance, the makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking for not keeping up with current web standards. The big “problem” is that despite the product being continually updated and was always being released as a new version, it was anything but modern. Dragon has been criticized for years for its lack of support for ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications). That all changed this week.

Nuance released the lucky version 13 of Dragon Naturally Speaking. I’ve been doing some preliminary testing and here’s what Dragon 13 supports (so far) in terms of ARIA:

  • role="button"
  • role="link"
  • role="radio"
  • role="checkbox"
  • aria-label

That’s just in about 30 mins of testing, so there’s definitely more to test, but this is a huge step.

Not so fast…

With that out of the way, let me remind you again of a few other things:

  1. All the older versions don’t support ARIA. This is the latest and greatest Dragon. People using those older versions count too!
  2. If you’re considering using roles (button, link, radio, checkbox) you really should just use the real thing. It’s easier, and accessibility is built in by default. With ARIA, you need to add it in manually and your solution is a lot more fragile.
  3. Google’s doing it right. Wait… what? A lot of people look to companies like Google and what they do. That hasn’t always been a good thing. When the new version of Google Maps was released earlier this year, I was incredibly happy to see that all the on-screen controls are buttons. Like, ACTUAL buttons. With a <button> element and everything. So, yeah. Google uses <button> in their most recently updated product. Please, DO look at what Google is doing as a model. At least for that part.

One thought on “How Dragon Naturally Speaking works with ARIA”

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  1. Sam says:

    The ironic thing is that if Dragon does actually support aria-label the value isn’t visible on-screen, kind of like Dragon supporting the alternative text of an image link.

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