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Re: Screen readers and simple data tables

From: Gerald G. Weichbrodt <gerald.g.weichbrodt@ived.gm.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 15:43:15 -0400
Message-ID: <00e601bfa000$599f27b0$f8daac82@GMTC.MPG.GM.COM>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hi Paul.  I tried the table using JAWS for Windows 3.5 and found that it
worked pretty well.  I used the Control+Alt+arrows and was able to move
across row 2 with automatic announcement of the column headers from row one.
It was a bit unusual in that each cell of row 2 appeared to contain two
links one after another, but JAWS indicated each of these links separately
and led me to understand that they were bundled together in the cell.

Jerry Weichbrodt

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Bohman" <paulb@cpd2.usu.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2000 3:02 PM
Subject: Screen readers and simple data tables

> I have a question about tables for those who use screen readers. Although,
> for the most part, tables seem to be accessible with current screen reader
> technology, there are definitely times when this is not the case. Even
> simple data tables can be problematic due to the way which screen readers
> read them.
> For example, I have a page which has a simple table with four columns and
> two rows. The first row consists of the headers and the second row
> of the data. In this case, the data consists of links to issues of
> newsletters. The column headers are the titles of the newsletters, and the
> cells beneath them have links to the "current issue" and to "all issues".
> The problem is that neither of the screen readers that I tested it on
> and Home Page Reader) gave enough information about the table to easily
> decipher its structure. Even though JAWS told me that I was entering a
> with four columns and two rows, it did not tell me where one column
> or ended. Nor did it tell me where the first row ended and the second row
> began.
> I was frustrated. In my mind, there is no reason why the screen reader
> wouldn't be able to give me this information. All of the information is
> already in the code itself. JAWS knows where each row and column begin and
> end. It just doesn't tell me what it knows.
> As it stands right now, the simple table that I created is reduced to a
> guessing game for those using screen readers. They have to try to figure
> what row and what column they are in. I see this as a problem with the
> screen readers, rather than with the coding itself. I understand that I
> have to create a workaround. I am willing to do that, but I wanted to get
> some feedback from those on the list who use screen readers to see what
> thought.
> By the way, the table in question is found on the following page:
> http://www.cpd.usu.edu/newsletters. To get to the table quickly, click on
> the first link, which allows you to skip past the main navigational menu.
> Thanks
> Paul Bohman
Received on Thursday, 6 April 2000 15:43:29 UTC

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