W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > September 2007

Re: Screen-reader behaviour

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 15:20:03 -0400
Message-ID: <00f301c7ef28$99f0e4a0$0601a8c0@HANDS>
To: <public-html@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>, "Sander Tekelenburg" <st@isoc.nl>

I've chopped this message up leaving only the portions I am addressing and 
inserted my responses into it marked with *dp*.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sander Tekelenburg" <st@isoc.nl>
To: <public-html@w3.org>; <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 1:42 PM
Subject: RE: Screen-reader behaviour
...
Btw, I do understand that people use tools like Jaws because they need to 
use
not just the Web, but other apps as well. But as I understand it there are
'stand alone' speaking (and braille?) browsers that work much better, no
doubt because they can focus on a single task. So I wonder why a Jaws user
does not use such a dedicated aural UA for his Web access? Is it too
complicated to learn to use both tools? Is it too expensive to buy both? 
Does
using both generate conflicts, or crashes?

*dp* there are none currently in production that I know of and those which 
have been produced have been outstripped by the technologies they were mennt 
to service.  It is far better to use an integrated solution for many reasons 
than to use a different solution for each task as which is part of the 
reason for instance, that Microsoft Office is so popular.

Well, worse, a newer version of Jaws no doubt will often require a newer
version of Windows, in turn requiring newer hardware (potentially including
dynamic braille devices, voice synths, etc.).
*dp* as bad as JAWS is, it's not that bad.  Jaws provides its own speech 
synthesis if one wishes to use it and has supported a growing not shrinking 
number of braille displays for quite some time.  It supported windows 3.11 
long after Microsoft stopped supporting it and only relatively recently 
dropped support for windows.98 but you can still get versions of jaws which 
support windows .98 off the web if you are authorized to do so or want to 
run them in demo mode.  On a side note but as part of this thread,  Another 
reason why jaws users may not move up is that sometimes the newer versions 
of jaws have broken something they need.


I wonder if this market might be changing though:

Without meaning to go into an advocacy debate about specific
vendors/qualities, I do wonder if something like Voice Over, assuming in Mac
OS X 10.5 it will be as improved as Apple claims, will do good here. You get
that 'for free' with the OS (which so far has cost $129,-). I realise that 
it
takes an effort to get used to different conventions, and that for for
instance a blind user it probably takes an even greater effort. But after
making such a change, it'd likely be much cheaper to keep things up to date.
Not to mention that with everything being integrated in the OS itself things
are much more likely to be stable, consistent, non-conflicting.

*dp* This trend is well worth exploring, but the market for screen readers 
for instance at least here in the us is heavily guided by what employers 
want their employees to do and unless a lot of large organizations see the 
light quick, we'll not see a whole lot of migration to other solutions no 
matter how good they are.  One thing the built-in option that Apple have has 
going for it though is that a ua developper can play with it and code for it 
and this way, we get choice.  I see fire fox comeing here, opera <wink> and 
others.  I don't see this happening in the windows world except by brute 
force.

I believe we have one HTML WG member, David Poehlman, who made that switch.
Perhaps he can say something about this. How expensive, how hard is that
switch? Does it seem likely that more people will make that switch? Does it
seem likely that Voice Over will trigger the AT market into becoming more
competitive, products cheaper, quality higher?

*dp* You give me too much credit, I am a member of two wgs, but html wg is 
not one but would be happy to join except that development is out of my 
depth and you've got a good large team as it is.  I will take a stab below 
though at some of the answers.

How expensive,
*dp* not as expensive as moving from dos to windows even though I used the 
same companies screen reader to do it.  That is in cost of ownership.  We 
all know you can buy a Mac today and put windows on it so you get the os 
with the screen reader for free and if you have your own you can roll it on 
as well.

how hard is that switch?

*dp* the answer here depends on where you are starting from.  I'm an earlier 
adopterof technology, I've been using computers for a long time and tested a 
lot of products and been thrilled to do it over the years within my narrow 
field view.  There is not really a full switch because I use the Mac much 
the same as I use windows and still use windows to do things that are not 
accessible on the Mac.  On the other end of the spectrum, I have a student 
who is using the Mac and says that it was easier for her to transition to 
than it was from dos to windows and she is not brave.  It's not little, but 
it's little to learn because of its uniformity and consistancy and the 
simple way it addresses complex issues.

Does it seem likely that more people will make that switch?
*dp* More people are using the Mac every day, so I'd have to say yes.

Does it seem likely that Voice Over will trigger the AT market into becoming 
more
competitive, products cheaper, quality higher?
*dp* There are a lot of changes taking place in the AT market.  people are 
turning to smaller devices with a variety of solutions available and the Mac 
and other venus are being explored but it is too early to tell where the 
desktop market will go.  Right now at least in the US, it is being driven as 
I mentioned earlier by who wants the tallent and also who pays for the 
technology.  Often, it is not the end user that pays for the technology but 
the entity who seeks to gain by putting it into the user's hands such as the 
employer or an educatinal entity or other.  Be ing a consultant and having 
had the good fortune to have had resources to invest, I have been able to 
acquire systems and software which Many will never see.


Similarly, how likely is Linux to affect this? It is generally harder for 
Joe
Average to use, but also a lot cheaper. And the effort to provide (free) 
"AT"
for it appears to be growing.

*dp* I've seen nothing which currently compells me to pick up linux as more 
than a casual user and I have taken a bite of that apple from time to time. 
The reason is that the gui seems to primitive and the console hurts my 
fingers mostly but I'm seeing indications that its use is growing and that 
the technology is maturing and will keep watching and playing with it from 
time to time.

Relevance: if we have strong evidence that people will stick with Jaws, we
know that what we decide for HTML5 will affect them for even longer than if
we have evidence that this market is changing and that in the coming years
users will be likely to use more up to date technology (because it becomes
more affordable).
*dp* There isomething ammis here.  HTML5 needs to be developped to be 
technology neutral because if it is built on the premise that people are 
going to be using jaws, they'll continue to use jaws no matter what happens 
in the market place as long as it is available and if JAWS becomes no longer 
available, html5 being jaws centric will hurt badly.

> Finally, it appears that there is a bit of a "chicken and egg" situation
> going on:  it seems that prior to the latest version of JAWS, pages that
> included the LONGDESC attribute would "behave badly" (in some instances 
> even
> crash the computer), forcing some agencies to actually (sadly) tell 
> authors
> to *not* use this potentially useful attribute.

That's one of those things that I can't understand. How can such a fatal bug
remain in existence, across many (eight?) versions, for so many years? (I
could understand if it existed in Windows, or IE, or Windows' accessibility
API, but since you say it is fixed in the latest version of Jaws itself...)
*dp* I never saw longdesk crash jaws.  I can at least partly answer some of 
the mystery here though.  AT is often developped througha process of trial 
and error and based on certain forces which are likely to contribute to its 
growth.  If such a force dictates that something is done which 
inadvedrtantly breaks something else, it will be done.
Received on Tuesday, 4 September 2007 19:20:10 UTC

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