Exploring: Can aria-hidden be used to make light box effects better when used with a screen reader? (No - not yet)

Link to the spec:

Just Some Content

Below: Heading, Text and Button in a div with aria-hidden="true"

Some Span tags that are hidden

Results

Configuration Result Summary Result Notes
Firefox 3.6, Windows XP, Window Eyes 7.11 Not Supported Neither hard-coded nor dynamic setting of aria-hidden="true" works
IE 8, Windows XP, Window Eyes 7.11 Very Buggy The dynamic change had no effect - as though the change was not noticed at all. The hard-coded settings worked for plain text in a span tag and plain text in a div - but only sometimes. For example, the span that starts with "one" is not read, but the spans starting with "two" and "three" are read! Headings were announced, (i.e. "heading 2") but the heading text was not read. Buttons were read with their text.
Windows 7, IE 9, Window Eyes 8.2. Very Buggy This became very buggy with the opening of the modal window, tabbing announced the elements behind. It also did not announce the text in the modal window, only the button. Keyboard access became buggy as well. Navigating by arrow or heading worked better but it got stuck on the hidden "google" button, and announced it and all the other buttons as a heading. Moving backwards through the headings got stuck on the hidden "google" button, making it impossible to move backwards by heading. Moving through the page by arrow was also confusing, it announced the hidden elements but not the text, like "heading 3" but it would omit the text associated with that heading. Then it also announced the hidden "google" button.
Windows 7, Firefox v.23, Window Eyes 8.2. Not Supported Does not work with the modal window. Elements in the greyed-out page are still announced. Elements within the aria-hidden tags are all announced.
Windows 7, Chrome v.28, Window Eyes 8.2. Supported It works well with the modal window. It does not announce any elements behind. It does not announce any elements within the aria-hidden tags. The only thing is, it repeats the headings twice.
IE 8, JAWS 11.0.734, Windows XP Not Supported aria-hidden="true" has no effect, dynamic or hard-coded. unrelated, but important: Also, though this is very similar to the script used to test alert dialogs (where focus works fine), in this case JAWS does not obey focus();. It seems to have something to do with the other changes made to the page in the same event handler, even though focus() is the last line. For alert dialog we also run a "disable buttons" function which operates on the orginal elements of the page
Firefox 3.6, JAWS 11.0.734, Windows XP Not Supported aria-hidden="true" has no effect, dynamic or hard-coded.
Windows 7, IE 9, Jaws 14 Inconsistent JAWS 14 worked well with the modal window when using the arrow keys and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. It does announce the parent window name, which could be confusing. It did allow you to tab through each of the buttons on the page, including the button in the modal window. JAWS 14 did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". However, tabbing through the page also announced the heading before the hidden "google" button.
Windows 7, Firefox v.23, Jaws 14 Inconsistent JAWS did not work well with the modal window, it announced all content in the greyed-out page behind. Tabbing through the page also announced the hidden "google" button. JAWS did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Windows 7, Chrome v.28, Jaws 14 Very Buggy This became very buggy with the opening of the modal window, and became stuck on the "spec button" repeating it as the location for all the other buttons on the page once the modal window was closed with a click. Keyboard access became buggy as well. With the modal window opened JAWS 14 read all the content that should have been greyed out, but not the content in the modal window. On reload, using only the 'h' key to navigate by heading, JAWS 14 did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true".
Windows 7, IE 9, Jaws 13 Inconsistent JAWS 14 worked well with the modal window when using the arrow keys and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. It does announce the parent window name, which could be confusing. It did allow you to tab through each of the buttons on the page, including the button in the modal window. JAWS 14 did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". However, tabbing through the page also announced the heading before the hidden "google" button.
Windows 7, Firefox v.23, Jaws 13 Inconsistent JAWS worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind, using either arrow keys, 'h' key or tabbing. It does announce the parent window name, which could be confusing. JAWS did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". However, when the modal is closed, it is possible to tab through to the hidden "google" button.
Windows 7, Chrome v.28, Jaws 13 Inconsistent JAWS worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind, when using the arrow keys. It does announce the parent window name, which could be confusing. It also allows you to tab through all of the buttons behind the modal, including the hidden "google" button. When the modal is closed, it is also possible to tab through to the hidden "google" button. When using the arrow keys or the 'h' key, JAWS did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Windows 7, IE 9, Jaws 12 Not Supported Neither hard-coded nor dynamic setting of aria-hidden="true" works
Windows 7, Firefox v.23, Jaws 12 Inconsistent JAWS worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind, it does announce the parent window name, which could be confusing. However, tabbing through the page announced the hidden "google" button. Navigating by heading worked well, JAWS did not announce the hidden areas. When navigating the page using the arrow keys, JAWS did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Windows 7, Chrome v.28, Jaws 12 Inconsistent JAWS did not work well with the modal window tabbing through announced the form controls in the greyed-out page behind. Using the tab key to navigate the form controls also announced the hidden "google" button. Using the arrow keys to navigate worked well, JAWS did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". Navigating by heading was also successful.
Windows 7, IE 9, Jaws 11 Not Supported Neither hard-coded nor dynamic setting of aria-hidden="true" works
Windows 7, Firefox v.23, Jaws 11 Not Supported Neither hard-coded nor dynamic setting of aria-hidden="true" works
Windows 7, Google Chrome v.28, Jaws 11 Not Supported Neither hard-coded nor dynamic setting of aria-hidden="true" works. Chrome does not read the page well at all. It does not read every sentence, but only the objects you can tab to, links and buttons.
Windows 7, Google Chrome v.28, ChromeVox 1.29 Supported ChromeVox worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. ChromeVox did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Windows 7, Firefox v.23, NVDA 2013.1.1 Inconsistent NVDA did not work well with the modal window. Tabbing through announced the form controls in the greyed-out page behind. Using the tab key to navigate the form controls also announced the hidden "google" button. However, using the arrow keys to navigate within the modal worked well. When navigating by heading or arrow keys, NVDA did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". The NVDA function where NVDA announces the elements that are in focus below the moving cursor did not recognize the aria-hidden setting. This was also the case with the greyed-out text behind the modal window. All elements under the moving cursor were announced, regardless of the aria-hidden setting.
Windows 7, IE 9, NVDA 2013.1.1 Inconsistent NVDA did not work well with the modal window. Tabbing through announced the form controls in the greyed-out page behind. Using the tab key to navigate the form controls also announced the hidden "google" button. However, using the arrow keys to navigate within the modal worked well. When navigating by heading or arrow keys, NVDA did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". The NVDA function where NVDA announces the elements that are in focus below the moving cursor did not recognize the aria-hidden setting. This was also the case with the greyed-out text behind the modal window. All elements under the moving cursor were announced, regardless of the aria-hidden setting.
Windows 7, Google Chrome v.28, NVDA 2013.1.1 Inconsistent NVDA did not work well with the modal window. Tabbing through did not announced the form controls in the greyed-out page behind, but it did change focus to those elements. However, using the arrow keys to navigate within the modal worked well. When navigating by heading or arrow keys, NVDA did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true". The NVDA function where NVDA announces the elements that are in focus below the moving cursor did recognize the aria-hidden setting. Tabbing through the elements on the page did not announce the hidden "google" button, but it was given focus.
Safari 6.0.5 Mac OS 10.7.5 VoiceOver 4.4 Supported VO worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. VO did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Safari for iPhone 4 Mac iOS 6.1.2, VoiceOver Supported VO worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. VO did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Safari for iPad mini Mac iOS 6.0.2, VoiceOver Supported VO worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. VO did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"
Chrome v.28 with ChromeVox v.1.29 Mac OS 10.7.5 Supported ChromeVox worked well with the modal window and did not announce any content in the greyed-out page behind. ChromeVox did not read any content within the tags containing aria-hidden="true"