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There's a carousel on the site I am on which does as most accessible carousels, visibly hidden items are also hidden from screen readers (in this case using aria-hidden). This seems to be the normal suggestion for all carousels which strikes me as weird.

First off the elements in the carousel are statically present in the DOM, so it is just a list of elements that could be read sequentially.

Second of all the display of carousel items is done using css transforms, meaning that from a screen readers viewpoint I don't think you end up with anything actually changing position in reading order, so you shouldn't lose the context of where you are - example transform:

transform: translate3d(-200%, 0px, 0px); 

Should the Screen reader still be forced to treat this as a carousel, or can it just read it as a list of content in a region?

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No, carousel content shouldn't be hidden for screenreaders.

Carousels are an entirely visual solution to reducing the amount of visual-noise on a page while still being able to access that content. Visual noise is not a problem screen-reader users suffer from.

Provided the content is marked up sufficiently so that the screenreader user can choose to skip the whole section, or jump between items within it easily (for instance if each slide heading is a separate H3 inside the main H2 of the carousel, or if each item is a separate list item) then leave it up to the user how they wish to interact with that element. Don't hide the content from them purely to try to replicate the experience of a sighted user. Because they're two different users who consume the content in very different ways.

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  • "Because they're two different users who consume the content in very different ways." I tend to disagree. There is a big part of screen reader users who still can see (if impaired), so they use their eyes and the screen reader at the same time. – Andy Mar 6 at 19:08
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~24% use a screen reader while also looking at the site visually. Hence, consistency between the visual and the read becomes important.

So generally speaking, visually hidden contents should also be hidden from screen readers, which might seem counter-intuitive.

This does not count for text alternatives, of course.

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