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RE: Screen reader support for browsers

From: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 10:34:17 -0500
Message-ID: <6AC4E20EED49D411941400D0B77E52F006939BF9@forum.cc.utexas.edu>
To: "'jim@jimthatcher.com'" <jim@jimthatcher.com>, "'Charles McCathieNevile'" <charles@w3.org>, "'jonathan chetwynd'" <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Cc: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>, "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Thanks for all the responses.  It's good to be reminded that there are
indeed other browsers out there.  But my post was prompted by a specific
experience: Jim Allan and I spent about an hour sitting in my office the
other day, looking at Opera and marveling at some of its features.  But we
were also strucky by the fact that JAWS 4.02 (the most recent version,
released last month) read the pages very badly when it read them at all--
even after going into the Opera preferences and checking off the things
designed specifically to support screen readers.  For example there is a
page that lists Opera's extensive keyboard support-- critical information
for me and for other people who are blind/have low vision who use screen
readers.  But JAWS could not read all the items on the list; Jim told me
that it seemed to be picking up "about every third itme."  We spent some
time looking at Opera's documentation, finding everything they had to say
about screen readers and making the changes they recommended.  Then we went
to JAWS' help and looked for references to Opera.  Not one.  So I called
Freedom Scientific tech support and asked if they had scripts for Opera.
The short answer was "No."  The long answer was also "No."  And when I
pushed the point, the guy on the phone said that he had "never seen" Opera,
nor had anyone else in his unit.  I asked if there were ways I could
configure JAWS to improve performance.  The short answer was "no."  The long
answer was that I might be able to do it if I knew how to write JAWS
scripts.  I got similar answers about Lynx, which JAWS also seems to handle
pretty badly.

My next move was to email GW Micro, publishers of Window-Eyes.  The response
was quick, and said that they simply had to concentrate all their resources
on supporting IE.  Period.  I sent the same query to DolphinUSA and will
report back when I hear from them.

There's no conspiracy here.  Just small companies in a small market doing
their best to allocate resources where they and their customers get the most
bang for the buck.  Given Microsoft's market share, it makes good business
sense for the vendors to focus on IE.  But that just has the effect of
continuing to narrow choices and driving innovation into tight dark corners.

John

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Thatcher [mailto:thatch@attglobal.net] 
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2002 8:40 am
To: Charles McCathieNevile; jonathan chetwynd
Cc: john_slatin; w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: RE: Screen reader support for browsers


Hi Charles,

The statement of screen reader "support" is debatable. OutSpoken supports
any browser just like other screen readers support any browser - reading the
text written to the screen. Outspoken is not unique in that regard. But it
is hopelessly inadequate for the web. It is inadequate support. Mercator
never "supported" the web either. Emacspeak is great technology used by at
least 4 people and is purely text. The way you write about these things
makes it sound a lot better than it really is.

I don't agree with your assertion about the way screen readers support
browsers either. In fact, JFW parses the HTML, Window-Eyes uses MSAA, and
only HPR uses the DOM ... as their main resource for getting web content and
structure.

Jim
Accessibility Consulting
http://jimthatcher.com
512-306-0931
Constructing Accessible Web Sites, is now available at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1904151000/jimthatcherco-20/!
I recommend it. It's a good book!


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Charles McCathieNevile
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 11:09 PM
To: jonathan chetwynd
Cc: john_slatin; w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Re: Screen reader support for browsers


well, an example of standardisation on the windows platform is using DOM and
MSAA - apparently this is the critical part of making browsers accesible to
the blind (I guess unless you use a directly accessible browser like
websound or homepage reader). Netscape have been working hard on this
recently and appear to be making very good progress.

So next roll-outs should be better. I agree that the range of browsers which
sighted people can use is valuable, and not being able to use the same range
is a great shame.

cheers


Chaals

On Fri, 19 Apr 2002, jonathan chetwynd wrote:

  Yes But this is an issue which needs raising.
  'where is the standardisation?'
  its not much **** good if you only get one or two browsers, per reader, or
  visa-versa is it?
  especially if they stop working with the next roll-out.

  thanks

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>
  To: "john_slatin" <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
  Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
  Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 11:21 PM
  Subject: Re: Screen reader support for browsers


  > As far as I know, Outspoken supports any browser, since they base their
  model
  > on what is pushed to the screen. Likewise I think mercator (Solaris) did
  > that. I am pretty sure Gnopernicus works with something other than IE
  (since
  > I am pretty sure there is no IE for GNOME, among other things).
  >
  > Emacspeak works like a new-generation screenreader - rather than
strictly
  > reading the screen it hooks into the underlying system (in this case
  emacs)
  > to make an audio desktop. It can support at least emacs/W3 browser and
  Lynx,
  > although there are other browsers that can be run under emacs I believe.
  >
  > Cheers
  >
  > Charles
  >
  > On Thu, 18 Apr 2002, john_slatin wrote:
  >
  >   For what it's worth, I just checked with both Freedom Scientific and
GW
  >   Micro and *neither* of them supports Opera or Lynx, or for that matter
  >   anything other than IE.  I have a query out to DolphinUSA about HAL.
  >
  >   This strikes me as impoverished, to say the least.
  >
  >   John
  >
  >   John Slatin, Ph.D.
  >   Director, Institute for Technology & Learning
  >   University of Texas at Austin
  >   FAC 248C, Mail code G9600
  >   Austin, TX 78712
  >   ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
  >   email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu <mailto:jslatin@mail.utexas.edu>
  >   web http://www.ital.utexas.edu <http://www.ital.utexas.edu/>
  >
  >
  >
  >
  > --
  > Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61
409
  134 136
  > W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4
92
  38 78 22
  > Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
  > (or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex,
  France)
  >
  >



--
Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409
134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92 38
78 22
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex,
France)
Received on Friday, 19 April 2002 11:34:19 GMT

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