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RE: What would a screen reader make of this?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 11:23:41 -0400 (EDT)
To: Mark Magennis <mark@frontend.com>
cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0106141116000.17504-100000@tux.w3.org>
800x600 screen resolution is not an acceptable minimum for people who are
using magnified screens - they effectively have much lower resolution (4x
magnification means that a 1024x768 screen only gives 256x192, for example).
Many people seem prepared to accept that they are inaccessible to some
portion of the community, but this does not sit well with the goal of Web

The principle behind the WCAG (and the work at W3C in general) is that you do
not design to a piece of software, you design to a specification, same as the
software vendors do. Then it doesn't matter which tool people choose to use.
For example, I use iCab and Amaya as browsers - iCab has the best HTML
support I have found in any browser, and does things I find particularly
useful like easy zooming and reading the text out loud. I find it
particularly unreasonable to expect people to have either Netscape or
Explorer (even adding Opera, Home Page Reader, iCab, EAID and Lynx to the
list doesn't cut it, although it shows that the complexity of designing to
software is not scalable)

In the case of people with disabilities there are very many specialised tools
that are a small proportion of the total use, but are critical for the
particular users.

Even the best guesses that try to establish facts about particular software
are fairly unreliable I suspect. The kind of rigorous survey that would need
to be done is very rarely undertaken at all, let alone in this field.


Charles McCN

On Thu, 14 Jun 2001, Mark Magennis wrote:

  This raises a sticky issue for designers. What screen reader do you design
  for, and is there a lowest reasonable level of screen reader functionality
  you can expect you user to have?

  It seems that most designers now accept that it is reasonable to expect
  sighted users to have at least version 4 of Internet Explorer or Netscape
  and at least 800 by 600 screen resolution. Is there some lowest level of
  screen reader capability that is reasonable to expect and, if so, is there
  an actual make and version of screen reader that encapsulates this level?

  Also, are there any statistics available, or even best guesses, about the
  proportion of users who have each make and version of screen reader?


  Mark Magennis
  Head of Usability, Frontend

  > -----Original Message-----
  > From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
  > Behalf Of David Poehlman
  > Sent: 14 June 2001 14:16
  > To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org; Marjolein Katsma
  > Subject: Re: What would a screen reader make of this?
  > and the screen readers are constantly changing.  There are reviews of
  > screen readers out there from afb and acb radio and others.  Perhaps it
  > might help to gather those resources together in a web page and keep it
  > up to date if it has not been done already.
  > ----- Original Message -----
  > From: "Marjolein Katsma" <access@javawoman.com>
  > To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
  > Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2001 3:15 AM
  > Subject: RE: What would a screen reader make of this?
  > Yes, I agree. While most screen reader programs have (free, session-time
  > limited) versions you can use for testing, it's a steep learning curve.
  > (And the reboot time to contuinue doesn't help if you can't afford the
  > expense of the full package.)
  > A determined developer can maybe learn one - but testing with all (even
  > the most-used) is just not feasible, unless you're a large company with
  > a testlab and a dedicated person (wo)manning the lab.
  > Of course that makes a list such as this valuable - but then the
  > question becomes: how many developers know about already, and how many
  > would come here to ask questions?
  > At 20:39 2001-06-13 -0400, Jim Tobias wrote:
  > >Hi All,
  > >
  > >Marjolein's queston reminds me of a good idea a corporate
  > >type once asked me.  Why isn't there a real-time screen reader
  > >emulator site?  That is, a site like Bobby wherein one could
  > >enter a URI and hear how it would sound through one or more screen
  > >readers with typical settings.  The learning curve of screen
  > >readers is holding back accessible web design.
  > >
  > >Jim Tobias
  > Marjolein Katsma
  > HomeSite Help - http://hshelp.com/
  > Bookstore for Webmasters - http://hshelp.com/bookstore/bookstore.html

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Thursday, 14 June 2001 11:23:53 UTC

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