Screen Readers and CSS: Are We Going Out of Style (and into Content)?

Scheduled at 9:15am in WB I on Friday, November 17 (2017).



  • John Northup, Web Accessibility Specialist, WebAIM
  • CB Averitt, Web Accessibility Specialist, Deque

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


We will demonstrate how various CSS declarations can have the unintended consequence of creating inequivalent visual and screen reader experiences.


Participants will learn how various CSS techniques affect content exposure and reading order in screen readers. We will offer robust solutions to overcome screen reader limitations and browser inconsistencies. We have tested over two dozen common CSS declarations in the following browser-AT pairings, and will present our results.

JAWS + IE 11 JAWS + Chrome JAWS + Firefox NVDA + Chrome NVDA + Firefox VoiceOver + Safari VoiceOver + Mobile Safari Talkback + Mobile Chrome Narrator + Edge


  1. Certain CSS declarations can result in inequivalent experiences for visual and screen reader users.
  2. Some CSS techniques behave differently in different screen reader-browser pairings.
  3. Developers can save time and trouble by being aware of these CSS pitfalls at the beginning of a project.

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Assistive Technology, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

John Northup

John Northup has worked in front-end development, usability, and accessibility for over fifteen years. He holds a master’s in information science from the University of Michigan.

CB Averitt

CB Averitt has completed hundreds of assessments and remediations in numerous technologies such as web, PDF and mobile. He has performed numerous presentations across the State of South Carolina. He has presented at major accessibility conferences such as CSUN’s Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference as well as Knowbility’s John Slatin AccessU. CB has been a volunteer with The South Carolina Assistive Technology Advisory Committee (SCATAC) for over 10 years.

Our presentation is available at