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RE: Readers

From: Steve Donie <sdonie@zycor.lgc.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 16:08:22 -0600
Message-ID: <9F147E391A3FD111B9A800805F356C52C4A484@lgcadev001.zycor.lgc.com>
To: "'Mike Brace'" <mlbrace@earthlink.net>, "'W3C interest group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
The basic reason is that it is difficult to impossible to write an algorithm
that can deduce the meaning of these items from their visual appearance.
Also, many times the screen reader doesn't have access to information about
the structure of what is presented on the screen. For example, frames. As a
sighted person, I cannot tell (by just looking at the screen) whether a web
site uses frames or not. I can try to figure that out by, say, tabbing
through (if my browser supports that - many don't). Or I could look at the
source for the page. But screen readers don't have access to the source for
the page - just the visual look of the page, and perhaps some GUI specific
things like if there are multiple HWND's (in MS Windows). This is the kind
of problem that Microsoft's Active Accessibility was supposed to solve -
provide a way for screen readers to get information from an application. As
someone who worked on that technology, I will be among the first to say that
MSAA isn't a complete solution - there is a long way to go. But when you
have two applications that support MSAA, it can go a long way to relieving
some of these problems. Of course, when it comes to web pages, it also
requires some assistance from the web page authors. MSAA in IE 5 will expose
the alt text of an image to a screen reader that uses MSAA to extract that
information, but the alt text must still be there, for example. Ditto for
forms. When you look at a web form, you can usually tell which field labels
go with which fields - but you do this by looking at lots of information -
relative proximity, any repetitive features, etc. HTML4 allows an author to
specify "this label labels this field" and I think that IE5 exposes that
through MSAA, but again the web page author must put that information in.

Steve Donie

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Brace [mailto:mlbrace@earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, November 19, 1999 3:30 PM
To: 'W3C interest group'
Subject: Readers

Can anyone offer a reasonable explanation as to why readers can't be
engineered to accommodate some of the more fashionable trends, e.g., frames,
table formats, interactive forms, etc. ?
Received on Friday, 19 November 1999 17:08:02 UTC

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