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Re: Tables and Screen reader question

From: Steven McCaffrey <SMCCAFFR@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2001 08:14:01 -0500
Message-Id: <sa558261.007@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
To: <charles@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hello all:

     First, due to the unfortunate terminology, many people think that Narrator is a screen reader comparable to JFW.  Programs that allow blind people to fully interact with the computer are more properly called "screen review" programs.  Narrator is not one of these.
A screen review program allows the blind user to fully interact with the OS and applications and includes a whole suite of special commands for each application.  They allow the user to at least: 
interact with menus, dialog boxes, forms, combo boxes, radio buttons etc.;
review the screen by various means, character, word, sentence etc. ;
 allow the user to get attribute/color  information;  
allow the creation and saving of user defined configuration files.
Narrator is literally just a screen reader because, to my knowledge, it just passively reads the screen and that's it.
     My version of JFW is 3.31 and does not render the voice ouput as described.  I do not even have the option in IE 5.0 to traverse HTML tables properly marked up cell by cell.  Even this ability would not constitute equivalent access because it would be a linear method of access while the table is chosen as a means of info representation precisely to provide non-linear access.
Why was a tabular display chosen in the first place?  It provides superior access over  a linear list of numbers.
I should note that I have the access described in the coffee table example if I bring it up in MS Word.  This is just because JFW 3.31 with MS Word (97?) has some special Word table scripts (commands).


Steve McCaffrey
Senior Programmer/Analyst
Information Technology Services
New York State Department of Education
New York State Workgroup on Accessibility to Information Technology 
Web Design Subcommittee 

>>> Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org> 01/05/01 07:20AM >>>
Can people please say which screen readers can identify the row and column
headings for a table cell?

As far as I am aware, this cannot be done using Lynx (which doesn't preserve
the required information) and cannot be done using Windows 2000 Narrator.

I believe it can be done using emacspeak (at any rate, it is possible to go
up or down the column to find a header at the top or bottom, and left or
right to find headers at the sides, which is equivalent to what visual
scanning enables).

Are there any other possiblities? When I tried with JAWS (I am no expert, and
I had an old version) I couldn't get the information. I can't get it using
the built-in speech capability of iCab - that does speak the table cell by
cell, including the summary. Same for MacLynx.

Mac IE 5.0 and Netscape 4.7 do not provide speech output options.


Charles McCN

Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI 
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
until 6 January 2001 at:
W3C INRIA, 2004 Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Friday, 5 January 2001 08:16:20 UTC

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