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RE: Screen reader support for browsers

From: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 11:03:53 -0500
Message-ID: <6AC4E20EED49D411941400D0B77E52F006939C1F@forum.cc.utexas.edu>
To: "'jim@jimthatcher.com'" <jim@jimthatcher.com>, john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>, "'Charles McCathieNevile'" <charles@w3.org>, "'jonathan chetwynd'" <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Cc: "'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Jim, I wasn't suggesting that there was anything nefarious going on when I
talked about Microsoft's market share, and I don't have any beefs with IE;
it's become a very good browser.  And if I were an AT developer I might well
make the same decisions, on both technical and economic grounds.  But Opera
and Netscape are also Windows applications...

And the fact is that I can't answer your question about "what would be
different" if I could use Opera because I can't use Opera and find out!  But
I *heard* about some very nice keyboard-interface features that don't (as
far as I know) have counterparts in IE (or in the combination of IE + JAWS).
I'd like to be able to experience the application for myself and make my own
decisions about what browser best meets my needs.  At present, there are
really only two options for a Windows user: Internet Explorer or Home Page
Reader.  And if that Windows user wants to use something that works with a
screen reader (as opposed to a self-voicing application like HPR) then
there's really only one choice: IE.

John

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Thatcher [mailto:jim@jimthatcher.com] 
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2002 10:53 am
To: john_slatin; 'Charles McCathieNevile'; 'jonathan chetwynd'
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: RE: Screen reader support for browsers


I think "Microsoft's market share" has very little to do with the question
of screen reader support for browsers. What screen reader developers are
trying to do is support access to the web. As you said, John, these are
small companies with very limited resources. The question boils down to how
does the developer obtain the web data to present to the blind user. As I
indicated in my last post, each of three AT's do it in three VERY different
ways though all use IE as a vehicle - because they are running on the
Windows platform. Having chosen IE as that vehicle (technically justified)
then they also "support" IE as an application, its dialogs and other
features - which is where scripts or set files are needed. HPR isn't
supporting IE; it is using the same Windows web controls that IE uses.

I would be interested in understanding how you believe your web access would
be changed if your screen reader supported a different browser, say Opera. I
assume you would want the same handling of the page that JFW now provides
under IE through parsing the HTML. So what is going to be different?

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: john_slatin [mailto:john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu]
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2002 10:34 AM
To: 'jim@jimthatcher.com'; 'Charles McCathieNevile'; 'jonathan chetwynd'
Cc: john_slatin; 'w3c-wai-gl@w3.org'
Subject: RE: Screen reader support for browsers


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 12:03:56 GMT

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