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Re: Screen readers - usage stats?

From: Ian Anderson <lists@zstudio.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 00:57:46 +0100
Message-ID: <014e01c42345$73b0f8f0$0400a8c0@QUIXOTE>
To: "David Poehlman" <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

> 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
> 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
> 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.

I don't disagree with you, in the main. I am sure we all agree that
broadest possible access is our overriding goal. What the heck are we
bothering with all this for, if that is not our core belief?

What I am not clear on is the connection that is being made between
optimising the user experience for one group of users with "leaving
out" a lot of others. These are not the same thing.

Here's an analogy. A film is broadcast in widescreen. Those people
with older TV sets (me, for example) either get black bars top and
bottom, or the left and right edges are cropped, or a mixture of both.
Those users who spent money on a widescreen TV may see the film in its
proper format. But if it's broadcast in a modified 4:3 version, it's
the users with widescreen TVs who get cropping, or black bars, or a
stretched picture. This time the widescreen tv users lose out, and the
users of older TVs don't have an incentive to upgrade. Either way,
everyone gets to see the film; some have a better experience than

The analogy is not an exact comparison to JAWS versus Window-Eyes, for
example, because only a few of the problems arise because Window-Eyes
is broken. Most differences are quirks, and you can't use the analogy
of upgrading like you can with browsers. Although WE bugs me
frequently, I do acknowledge that it is a quality piece of software.
However, I think the analogy illustrates my two main points:

1. we are not excluding anyone. I am talking about relatively fine
differences in user experience... tweaking; optimising.
2. whatever you do in these cases, someone will lose out a little

You seem to be saying we should optimize for no screen reader over
another but I can't see, for example, how that helps me choose between
two valid, alternative ways of coding a navigation bar, each of which
creates issues for someone. I want perfect for everyone, but sometimes
there is no perfect. Then, I have to choose, and market share is one
factor I look at in making that choice.
Received on Thursday, 15 April 2004 20:50:10 UTC

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