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Re: School tool(s)

From: Lloyd G. Rasmussen <lras@loc.gov>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 09:14:28 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-au@w3.org

The last time I tried working with Amaya, more than a year ago, it was
difficult to use with Window-Eyes.  The problem seemed to be that the
graphics widgets had come from other environments such as X-Windows, not
native Windows controls, so a Windows screen reader didn't know what these
controls were supposed to do.  If I had spent more time with a
knowledgeable sighted person, we might have figured some of it out.

Fundamentally, this is the problem you would have with Mozilla.  Recently
they have been working on adding Microsoft Active Accessibility into the
Windows version of Netscape, and this would help reading web pages
immensely.  But I don't know how it would work  for authoring and editing.
Some folks have had good success with older versions of Netscape Composer.
I have experimented with Mozilla's XML and XSLT programs inside the Cygwin
environment.  Since this is text, it's accessible with a DOS screen reader,
but the results from XMLLint are pretty technical.

What screen reader do they use?  JAWS works great if there are scripts for
the program, but somebody has to get down and dirty with the script
language if no scripts have been written.

Several blind people with JAWS and Window-Eyes have tried to work with
existing versions of DreamWeaver and given up.    Perhaps Macromedia is
working on this, as they have successfully with Flash 6.  Home Site
probably can be used.

I do some work with Ultraedit, a Windows ASCII programmer's editor that
includes HTML Tidy and a boatload of other features.  In version 9.10 you
must set some options in its .INI file for screen reader compatibility.

Some blind users like Arachnophilia.  Along the same lines, I used to use
an old version of Hotdog Professional.  Both programs allowed you to apply
tags to selected areas of a document and their menus were accessible.

I have worked with XML authoring in WordPerfect 9 and 10; the process is
accessible, and WP helps you validate your document against your DTD, but
the process is cumbersome.

XML spy is moderatly screen reader compatible.  But it is so complex and
loaded with tools that I found it ran quite slowly and it was easy to get
lost in the screen clutter.

Microsoft's 1999 XML Notepad program works pretty well with Window-Eyes.
It might be a candidate, in conjunction with other home-grown tools.

Meeting WCAG or not, existing word processors, spreadsheets, presentation
programs, OCR programs and others know how to export crummy HTML, and these
are going to be the sources of the text and graphics that go into your pages.

Sorry for all the discouraging words.

At 07:22 AM 6/26/02 -0500, you wrote:
>To the group:
>Recently, I directed some questions to Charles McCathieNevile 
>regarding Amaya and he encouraged me to bring the topic here, to this 
>list, for group input. Thank you in advance for the opportunity.
>I am helping a local school develop their web presence. As part of 
>this project, though, I need to leave them able to maintain the site 
>themselves (with occasional monitoring by me) and I am searching for 
>a best authoring tool for them to use. All students at the school are 
>blind or low-vision.
>Several teachers and a few students will need to do the work, and my 
>hope is to find a program that allows them to work in a text-editing 
>environment and apply style sheets and formatting while relying on 
>the program to generate code that meets accessibility guidelines. 
>(I'll provide templates and models so they mostly won't create pages 
>from scratch.) I want the students to be able to work using a screen 
>reader and the teachers to work in WYSIWYG.
>There is no perfect tool, of course, and quirks and shortcomings are 
>just part of what we will accept in the process of what we're doing.
>My hope is that some people here may have some experience and insight 
>into a best choice. I invite your response and I hope the discussion 
>proves helpful. I need to make a choice this summer, and will be able 
>to do some testing with summer school students.
>1. For all that I am asking, Amaya sounds like a reasonable choice.
>But Charles has reservations about it in terms of meeting ATAG, not 
>the least of which are validity checking and a concern that it may 
>not work well with screen readers.
>Still, it looks like Amaya's basic functionality and support of 
>accessible design is not bad.
>2. Charles has also suggested looking at Mozilla, which I shall do.
>3. And I wonder also about Macromedia Dreamweaver with Homesite.
>I'm not sure what to add to my questions at this point -- but I'd be 
>happy to respond to yours. Thank you.
>. . / tom mcCain
>indianapolis, indiana usa
Braille is the solution to the digital divide.
Lloyd Rasmussen, Senior Staff Engineer
National Library Service f/t Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress    (202) 707-0535  <lras@loc.gov>
HOME:  <lras@sprynet.com>       <http://lras.home.sprynet.com>
Received on Wednesday, 26 June 2002 09:27:33 UTC

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