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Fwd: Re: User Agent Update (documentation information) (fwd)

From: Jon Gunderson <jongund@uiuc.edu>
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2001 13:09:22 -0600
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org

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>Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 17:19:35 -0500
>To: "gregory j. rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>
>From: Jay Leventhal <jaylev@afb.net>
>Subject: Re: User Agent Update (documentation information) (fwd)
>Cc: jongund@uiuc.edu
>I guess you mean this Windows user survey.
>Jay Leventhal
>National Technology Program
>11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
>New York, NY 10001
>Phone: (212) 502-7642
>e-mail: techctr@afb.net
>A Survey of Windows Screen Reader Users:
>Recent Improvements in Accessibility
>Prepared by: J.D. LEVENTHAL, C.L. EARL
>Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Visual Impairment & 
>Blindness Vol. 93, No. 3, and is copyright 1999 by the American Foundation 
>for the Blind, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, NY 10001.
>A Survey of Windows Screen Reader Users: Recent Improvements in Accessibility
>Crista Earl and Jay Leventhal
>         The purpose of the survey reported here was to gather information 
> about Windows accessibility from the perspective of people who are 
> visually impaired (who are either blind or have low vision) and use 
> screen readers. A previous survey (Leventhal & Earl, 1997) revealed that 
> even experienced users had difficulty accessing Windows. The current 
> survey shows a much greater comfort level, though some areas, such as 
> formal training and access to databases, continue to be a problem.
>The survey
>         The survey was conducted from August 22 to October 15, 1998. Over 
> 400 people were contacted by telephone or E-mail, 200 of whom responded.
>         Respondents were asked what hardware they use; whether they use a 
> braille display or screen magnification in addition to synthetic speech; 
> what Windows or DOS applications they use; what methods they used to 
> learn Windows; why they began using Windows; and how comfortable they 
> feel using Windows.  Respondents were also asked if they were able to 
> perform successfully each of a list of tasks in the Windows environment 
> and to comment on the performance of those tasks.  They were then asked 
> to list any additional tasks or Windows applications they would like to 
> be using but were not.
>         The survey participants were drawn from among the 526 members of 
> the American Foundation for the Blind's Career and Technology Information 
> Bank (CTIB) who use Windows screen readers.  CTIB is a network of 
> visually impaired people who have agreed to consult with other visually 
> impaired people about how they perform their jobs and the technology they 
> use. Of the 200 people who responded, 83% have a college degree, 40% have 
> a graduate degree, 93% are currently employed, and 62% have no useful vision.
>         Among the respondents, 22% work in the assistive technology 
> field, 22% are computer programmers or network administrators, 5% are 
> attorneys or judges, 7% are rehabilitation counselors or teachers, 4% are 
> secretaries or receptionists, 5% are college professors or directors of 
> university services, 6% are administrators in rehabilitation or 
> education, and 4% are scientists. Clearly, the survey participants are 
> highly successful visually impaired users who might be expected to use 
> Windows applications and Windows screen readers with a higher level of 
> success than would a random sample of visually impaired computer users.
>         The respondents used the following Windows-based synthetic speech 
> programs: JAWS (Job Access with Speech) for Windows from Henter-Joyce: 
> 68%; Window-Eyes from GW Micro: 35%; WinVision from Artic Technologies: 
> 15%; ASAW (Automatic Screen Access for Windows) from MicroTalk Software: 
> 6%; Window Bridge from Syntha-Voice Computers: 3%; ScreenPower for 
> Windows from TeleSensory Corp.: 3%; and outSPOKEN for Windows from ALVA 
> Access Group: 3%. (Note: The survey results may not total 100% because of 
> rounding and because many respondents used more than one program.) 
> Twenty-four percent of the respondents reported using more than one 
> Windows-based screen reader, 27% reported using a braille display in 
> addition to synthetic speech, and 11% used screen magnification along 
> with a screen reader.
>         Almost all of the respondents reported using word 
> processors--Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect; E-mail 
> packages--Qualcomm's Eudora and Microsoft Outlook; and World Wide Web 
> browsers--Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator.  In 
> contrast, only 37% reported using a Windows spreadsheet and only 17% were 
> using a Windows database.
>Tasks performed in Windows
>         Respondents were presented with a list of 22 Windows tasks and 
> asked if each was something that they do easily, do with difficulty, 
> cannot do, or had never attempted. Because 89% submitted their responses 
> via E-mail, it was not surprising that most respondents replied that they 
> could read and reply to E-mail messages easily.  What was surprising was 
> that although 92% of the respondents had tried to use Windows Help, 55% 
> had difficulty with or could not use this feature.
>         Similarly, a high percentage of respondents (56%) had difficulty 
> filling out forms on the Internet, an essential skill for users for whom 
> the Internet is the only means of access to otherwise printed 
> materials.  More than three-quarters of the respondents had never played 
> games or joined a chat group, and 40% had never used a Windows database 
> or spreadsheet.
>         In comparison with the respondents to the previous survey 
> (Leventhal & Earl, 1997), the current users are doing more with Windows 
> and using a wider variety of Windows applications at a more sophisticated 
> level.  In the previous survey, only the following tasks could each be 
> accomplished by more than half of the respondents: navigating from window 
> to window, formatting a document in a word processor, running a spell 
> checker, installing new applications, and reading and replying to E-mail 
> messages. In the current survey, of the 22 tasks listed, only the 
> following were attempted by fewer than half the respondents: looking up 
> items in an encyclopedia, playing games, participating in a chat group, 
> scheduling and checking appointments, using mainstream optical character 
> recognition software, entering and reading data in a spreadsheet or 
> database, and doing advanced formatting (such as preparing complex 
> tables) in a word processor.  In addition, tasks not generally attempted 
> by beginners (managing files, changing colors or sounds, and installing 
> software) were considered easy by a large number of the respondents (66%, 
> 48%, and 38%, respectively).
>         Although most participants still used DOS for some applications 
> or for file management--75% versus 95% in the previous survey--most used 
> Windows regularly and successfully.  Two typical responses were the 
> following: "I was led to believe that using Windows would be very 
> difficult but have found the transition quite smooth" and "I really feel 
> comfortable in Windows now and never thought I would be."
>         In spite of the positive comments about Windows in general, many 
> users mentioned specific applications or categories of applications they 
> wanted to use but could not access.  Most notably, databases were among 
> applications considered inaccessible.
>         To compound the challenge that accompanies learning any new 
> system, a large number of respondents had never had formal training.  In 
> the previous survey, 36% of the respondents had had some formal 
> training.  Among the current respondents, the percentage is higher (48%) 
> but still low.  Further, not all respondents gave high marks to the 
> formal training they did receive.  General Windows training classes not 
> specifically designed for visually impaired people were rated by the 
> group lower than were books about Windows (3.5 compared to 5.3.)
>         The following are some typical responses about training: "There 
> needs to be a greater awareness of professionals in the field of 
> rehabilitation for the blind that computer skills are no longer a luxury 
> . . . when it comes to employment" and "Training remains a major problem, 
> as instructors do not seem to have the necessary knowledge or teaching 
> skills to impart information adequately." A third respondent wrote: "One 
> of the biggest problems and concerns that I have with sighted instructors 
> of Windows screen readers and various Windows applications is that many 
> times when the student gets stuck [the instructors] just pick up the 
> mouse and fish them out of the problem. I think a lot of them need to 
> learn how to do it blindfolded and then be very comfortable in using 
> keystrokes."
>What it all means
>         One of the clearest findings of this survey is that the longer 
> respondents had been using Windows the higher their comfort level.  On a 
> scale of 0-10, with 0 being "totally clueless" and 10 being "a real 
> expert," the average comfort level was 6.4.  People who began using 
> Windows in 1998 had an average comfort level of 5.0, whereas the average 
> rating for those who began using Windows before 1995 was 8.1.
>         It was interesting to note that 84% of the respondents agreed 
> that reading and replying to E-mail messages was easy, but the group 
> showed less agreement about the ease of word processing programs. This 
> discrepancy might be attributable to the respondents' lack of experience 
> with Windows word processors, since 36% of them still used a DOS word 
> processor.  The difficulty and range of word processing tasks compared to 
> those of E-mail programs is probably also a factor.
>         The authors were surprised by the respondents' frustration about 
> performing specific tasks, especially using the Help feature, running a 
> spell checker, and installing applications.  At the same time, much of 
> the frustration expressed in the earlier survey is nearly 
> gone.  Respondents still mentioned the difficulties involved in learning 
> Windows and its applications, but they were much more positive about 
> using Windows in general.  Few respondents mentioned problems that could 
> be interpreted as errors in their screen readers' off-screen model or 
> other complete screen-reader failures.  Only a few mentioned unlabeled 
> graphics as problems.  A problem that was mentioned often (at least 96 
> times) was the amount of time it took to select an accessible application 
> and learn to use it. The following are some representative comments: "My 
> main frustration is not having the teaching materials [written 
> specifically for visually impaired users] that I need to learn" and "Be 
> prepared to spend a lot of time learning and have a lot of patience 
> because it is easy to get lost and have to start over."
>         The previous survey of Windows screen reader users concluded that 
> more training for visually impaired users was greatly needed.  This 
> conclusion is still valid, in light of the fact that over half the 
> respondents have not received formal training. As one respondent wrote:
>"I think the transition from DOS to Windows was the most shattering 
>experience I've had to date as a person with a disability. My performance 
>dropped to half for over six months and I truly did not feel I could 
>compete . . . I would have gladly purchased some training intervention 
>just to straighten this out, but it was not available."
>In addition, respondents made it clear that improvements in training are 
>         Many survey participants recommended that users take what they 
> learn from formalized approaches and go on to explore on their own. One 
> respondent offered the following techniques: "The first thing I always do 
> when I am trying to learn a new application is to look at the choices on 
> the menu bar and pull-down menus and take note of any available 
> shortcuts. . . . I experiment with the tab and arrow keys to see what 
> options I can access." Another recommendation was for users to get a 
> solid foundation in Windows and screen reader basics. As one respondent 
> wrote: "I have found that it is easier to learn new Windows applications 
> if you have a good basic knowledge of Windows concepts, such as 
> navigating dialog boxes."
>         Many respondents recommended Internet resources, such as 
> listservs and newsgroups, as sources for learning about Windows.  Some 
> respondents especially suggested listservs devoted to a particular speech 
> package.
>         Manufacturers of screen readers have gone a long way to improve 
> access. To benefit fully from these improvements, users need to stay 
> informed about updates to their screen readers, learn to use new 
> features, and inform their screen reader manufacturers about bugs in 
> their products.
>         One respondent eloquently summed up the situation: "Windows is 
> sure easier to use than it was just a couple of years ago. But that 
> wouldn't be possible without the dedicated efforts of our adaptive 
> technology providers.  I'm sure there will be more bumps in the road, but 
> if we all stick together and support our respective software and hardware 
> manufacturers we will all continue to survive and, yes, even thrive."
>Jay D. Leventhal, senior resource specialist, and Crista L. Earl, resource 
>specialist, Technical Evaluation Services, National Technology Program, 
>American Foundation for the Blind, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, NY 
>10001; techctr@afb.net.

Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
College of Applied Life Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL  61820

Voice: (217) 244-5870
Fax: (217) 333-0248

E-mail: jongund@uiuc.edu

WWW: http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund
WWW: http://www.w3.org/wai/ua
Received on Thursday, 8 March 2001 14:06:48 UTC

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