Introducing UIA support on Windows

Benjamin Beaudry
Benjamin Beaudry

Modern assistive applications on Microsoft Windows use the platform's UI Automation accessibility framework to interoperate with other applications' user interfaces. Until now, Chromium has supported the older Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) and IAccessible2 (IA2) framework for this purpose, which has led to problems with accessibility tools on Windows.

To solve this problem, Microsoft has worked with the Chrome team to support the UI Automation (UIA) framework on Windows directly, making it easier for accessibility tools to communicate with the browser. We'll be starting a gradual rollout to stable, starting in Chrome version 126. This will enable Voice Access to function in all Chromium-based browsers and will enhance the user experience for all UIA-based accessibility tools, such as Narrator and Magnifier. This work will also eliminate the Windows UIA emulation layer, which has been the source of many performance issues in Chromium on Windows. However, this shouldn't have any effect on existing MSAA or IA2 clients. Chrome will continue its support for MSAA and IA2, making it one of a few applications that support both accessibility APIs on Windows.

For enterprises, we're introducing a new policy, UiAutomationProviderEnabled, to help manage the transition to UIA smoothly. This policy will be available through Chrome version 136, giving enterprises ample time to update any tools that were relying on the Windows UIA emulation layer.

Report issues

We're excited to bring this improvement to our users and developers, and we know it will make the web more accessible for everyone. Report issues with the new UIA support here.