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Re: Screen readers - usage stats?

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 08:40:16 -0400
Message-ID: <002601c422e6$d2d25a40$6601a8c0@hands>
To: "Nick Kew" <nick@webthing.com>, "Ian Anderson" <lists@zstudio.co.uk>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Nick and all,

Actually, what *I* was going for with my comment on screen reader stats was
to place the emphasis on technology as a whole rather than screen readers
specifically due to the variance in environments and configuration
preferences.  you cannot possibly second guess every one so rather than try
to figure out who uses the most of this or that, it's best to take an
approach that provides for the broadest access possible as you say in your
message below.  In other words, If you find that one screen reader is the
most popular or gets the most dollars, coding for that will leave out a lot
of people.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nick Kew" <nick@webthing.com>
To: "Ian Anderson" <lists@zstudio.co.uk>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 3:42 AM
Subject: Re: Screen readers - usage stats?

On Wed, 14 Apr 2004, Ian Anderson wrote:

[rant follows - not directed at you, but at some of the ideas you're
wrestling with]

> > What compelling reason could there be to have stats of this type?  I can
> > think of some that have nothing to do with the web but none that do.

Screenreaders are by definition a tiny market share at most sites.
If that is a reason not to care about them, then let's forget all
about accessibility.

I know that's not what you meant, but it's the same underlying argument.

> I'd be interested to see information on screen reader market share. I'm
> consulting with a UK Internet bank presently, and we are testing in
> Window-Eyes 4.5, JAWS 5.0, JAWS 4.5 and IBM HomePage Reader 3.0. You get
> problems with the default settings in each configuration, and slightly
> different HTML code is required to make site features work well in each

Browser-specific authoring is the Root Of All Evil on the Web.

Seriously, that's a lot like authoring for "both browsers".  By doing
that you are contributing to
  * lock-out (of people with different equipment)
  * lock-in (of people with supported equipment, all of which is
Never limit your support to users of expensive equipment - you are
penalising them the cost of it.
Never limit your support to users of proprietary equipment - you are
leaving them hostage to vendors.
Above all, don't make hostages to Windows.  Even if you discount the
fact that it's grossly overpriced and requires new and expensive hardware
every few years, you're forcing users to expose themselves to the
World of Viruses.

> Often there are conflicts, where the code that works well in JAWS causes a
> rendering issue in Window-Eyes, or vice versa.

If there are legitimate reasons to present things differently, you should
do so by empowering your users to choose, not by second-guessing their
needs.  The kind of user-options offered by mod_accessibility do this,
and if you think its output can be tailored for optimal presentation
with particular screenreaders, I'm listening.

Nick Kew

Nick's manifesto: http://www.htmlhelp.com/~nick/
Received on Thursday, 15 April 2004 08:43:55 UTC

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