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Re: screen-reader versus self-voicing app (was: Re: Screen-reader behaviour)

From: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 06:38:35 -0400
Message-ID: <001901c7f45f$e94a4e60$0601a8c0@HANDS>
To: "Lisa Seeman" <lisa@ubaccess.com>, <unagi69@concentric.net>, "'Charles McCathieNevile'" <chaals@opera.com>, "'Sander Tekelenburg'" <st@isoc.nl>, <public-html@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>

HI Lisa,

There is a clinitian in me burning to get out although I am not an actual 

You say in aprt below:
".....computer users
who may be unable to afford a screen reader...."
My response, you cannot use a screw driver to (hammer) a nail.  This is 
stating the obvious and is well off topic, but there is a lot of technology 
in closets because it was purchased for the rong purpose or given for the 
rong purpose and this goes up or down.  If something is not adaquate, it is 
not adaquate no matter what the cost or lack there of and people should not 
walk away with the impression that one size fits all or that all sizes will 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Lisa Seeman" <lisa@ubaccess.com>
To: <unagi69@concentric.net>; "'Charles McCathieNevile'" <chaals@opera.com>; 
"'Sander Tekelenburg'" <st@isoc.nl>; <public-html@w3.org>; 
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 2:26 AM
Subject: RE: screen-reader versus self-voicing app (was: Re: Screen-reader 

 Gregory wrote: self-voicing apps have their place in the overall scheme of
things  but they are NOT substitutes for screen readers.

Two places were they have an important role is for people with learning or
language disabilities. Another use is for people who do not have their own
computer, and can use firevox on a shared computer, such as the library
(which may not be prepared to install a bulky program such as Jaws but will
be prepared to help someone get started). Also as people develop vision
problem (such as associated with diabetes and aging) may often use the self
voicing apps for reading print. This group do not need a screen reader for
selecting icons at the start up but  they may not want to, or even be able
to, manage a screen reader (which take quite good memory skills).  Another
huge group who need to be taken into account are third word computer users
who may be unable to afford a screen reader or may not read well.

So they are not  a substitutes for screen readers  but  self-voicing apps
have an important place in the world.

All the best


-----Original Message-----
From: wai-xtech-request@w3.org [mailto:wai-xtech-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Gregory J. Rosmaita
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2007 9:29 PM
To: Charles McCathieNevile; Sander Tekelenburg; public-html@w3.org;
Subject: screen-reader versus self-voicing app (was: Re: Screen-reader


as a screen-reader user, let me attempt to explain why there is no
groundswell of support for "self-voicing" applications by those dependent
upon speech output...

1) unavoidable black holes:
self-voicing applications cannot replace a dedicated screen reader, for
self-voicing applications often cannot interpret key parts of the chrome,
espeically if the chrome does not reuse standard control sets for the OS on
which it is running -- download interfaces, view source interfaces (that
open up a new browser instance or tab), the ability to "browse" files to be
uploaded to a web site, etc. this is because the self-voicing application
exists solely to voice the application which is currently running;

2) one can put one's screen-reader into "sleep" mode for a particular app,
so that the self-voicing app doesn't conflict with the screen reader, but
this often leads to unexpected and undesired results;

for example, in order to use FireVox, i set JAWS to become inactive whenever
FireVox is loaded -- however, since FireVox is an extension, and not a
seperate app, i can no longer run FireFox with a screen reader, because the
screen reader cannot differentiate between the synonymic executable files
when invoked, and therefore, disables screen reader interaction when a
partucular executable is loaded;

3) self-voicing apps can still conflict with a scren reader due to events
from the self-voicing apps firing whilst one is in a plain text document
checking one's credit card or banking information;  which is also why
self-voicing applications have limited appeal and why they CANNOT be run
without a screen reader -- if i am using a self-voicing app, once i switch
tasks, i have no wey of knowing what is currently running -- even when doing
something as "trivial" as copying the contents of a page to the clipboard
and pasting it to an empty plain text document -- without a screen-reader at
the ready to "awaken" when the user switches from the self-voicing app, the
speech-dependent user is left without a means of ensuring that previous
information has not been overwritten, nor what directory into which the file
is going to be saved, nor access to any system calls ("do you want to
overwrite..." or "error - nothing selected"

self-voicing apps have their place in the overall scheme of things, but they
are NOT substitutes for screen readers; what we should be concentrating upon
is NOT how does current assisstive technology handle current markup, but how
to enable assisstive technology to handle markup better, by providing more
explicit association patterns and as much semantic information as possible

THAT is the goal -- to improve bi-directional communication between
applications, in this case, between user agents and screen readers -- not to
critique the current state of support -- it must ALSO be realized that HTML
4.01 did not proclaim that it had addressed all accessibility problems, only
those that emergency triage units identified as the most crucial problems in
the late nineteen-nineties -- it was NEVER intended to be the be all or end
all in web accessibility, but an effort to provide a means of breaching
perceptual black holes and the sort of device dependence and modality
dependence that breaks assisstive technologies...  even for a self-voicing
app to work well, it must rely upon the semantics built into the markup
language it supports...

this is why this whole thread is a red herring in my opinion -- we cannot
"break" what was done in the past to promote accessibility, useability,
internationalization and device independence, nor should we be bound to
putting old wine into new bottles -- where superior mechanisms are
available, they should be implemented, but those mechanisms implemented in
HTML 4.01 specifically for accessibility, device independence and
internationalization MUST be supported as part of the "backwards
compatibility" principle, hence my suggested verbiage for the design
principle document:

   "Browsers should retain residual markup designed for a specific
   purpose, such as accessibility. internationalization or device
   independence. Simply because new technologies and superior
   mechanisms have been identified, not all of them have been
   implemented. Moreover, disabled users are more likely to be
   users of "legacy technology" because it is the only technology
   that interacts correctly with third-party assistive technologies"

or words to that effect...


"He who lives on Hope, dies farting."
  -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack
Gregory J. Rosmaita, unagi69@concentric.net Camera Obscura:
Received on Tuesday, 11 September 2007 10:38:53 UTC

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