Good for accessibility, good for all users

In the early days of the Web, the web pages described the content and its structure, while the layout was decided by the browser. This allowed for content to be displayed on a lot of different devices, including text-only devices and devices without colour screens. This also opened up for the content display to adapt to the needs of the user.

At Opera, we grasped this opportunity with both hands. Clearly, if the user needed print that was 4x bigger and with a black background and green text, that is what we should show. However, not everyone agreed. I remember being at one of the early conferences and being threatened with legal action unless we displayed the content 100% the same way as it was shown by the leading competitor, which I believe was Mosaic at the time. If the print was too small to read, that was the user’s problem. We thought differently and we have always believed that adapting to the user´s needs is what we should do, both at Opera in the early days and now at Vivaldi.

For me doing the best to adapt to the user’s needs is a given. My background is in computer science and usability, but I’ve also been exposed to usability from early on, given that my father’s research focus as a professor in Psychology was on children with disabilities. For many people, the size of the letters and the input methods available can be the difference between being able to use the Internet or not at all. We should strive to adapt to those needs and IMHO what we do for them, we do for us all.

Even in the first versions of Opera, we had keyboard shortcuts, single keyboard shortcuts, and scaling of content. It took years before other browsers had zoom like ours.

We have brought this into Vivaldi as well. We have the keyboard shortcuts, the single keyboard shortcuts, spatial navigation, and many more accessibility features. The more you study Vivaldi, the more you will find.

Vivaldi is about customization. It’s about providing a million different ways to do things, so you can get what you want out of it as a user. We provide the functionality in the browser so that you can tailor it to your requirements.

Web accessibility got broken partly because of the direction the web took – focusing on how things should look, not the underlying functionality. We’ve been seeing a lot of dynamic content and that doesn’t scale as nicely.

Limiting the ability to tailor products to your requirements has been a constant trend. I believe in going the other direction – we adapt to your requirements. In some cases, those requirements are something that’s non-negotiable.

Join the Conversation

  1. Glad to hear accessibility is still alive in a company that cares. Keep up the good work Jon. Thanks!

  2. What can I say???

    Thank You Jon for being at the forefront and for continuing this development path.

  3. “Web accessibility got broken partly because of the direction the web took – focusing on how things should look, not the underlying functionality.”
    Definitely. Seeing more and more websites that don’t even follow the minimum set of semantic rules – which were invented more than 20(!) years ago and are still valid today – makes me want to shout every time – and it gets worse with more and more sites which shove tons of ECMA-/JavaScript into our throats, some of them don’t even display any content if JS is off for whatever reason.

    Yes, WAI ARIA is nice but so is a good basis with a meaningful structure, e.g. not abusing headlines for other stuff like bigger fonts and later trying to “fix” it by inserting the ARIA attributes to some other elements which are not intended for that by means of JS (seen that – my mind boggled!), structuring them in a meaningful order etc.or things like ALT texts and descriptions for images (One of my pet peeves, see ) Helps a lot if someone uses web2speech etc too.

  4. I like Vivaldi, but I don’t believe it lives up to your sentiments. For instance, I cannot get to the web accessibility link in this piece using the keyboard – tabbing only activates the boxes in the feedback form – and there is no key combination in the keyboard cheat sheet to get to the next or previous link in a page.
    It may follow ‘platform conventions’ as the HTML5 spec puts it
    but this is out of step with other browsers that support tabbing through links in a page without authors having to add tabindex=0 to their HTML. I have recently logged a bug about this.

  5. Thank You! I am here changing my browser from what I learned from the May 20th 2018. I feel like a lamb often but do nothing to change. I am a true lamb i guess. I am looking forward to exploring your product and am great full for your insight.

  6. I like what you said about how a company should adapt to the needs of its clients or users. Having different versions for the other nationalities so they can connect, communicate and enjoy the web. I like Vivaldi browser better then Google Chrome. It is easier, cleaner, friendlier and does not hold your personnel information. I also like the fact you have this forum to communicate with.