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Acid test for screen reader + browser + Java

From: <meijer@natlab.research.philips.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 09:22:37 +0100 (MET)
Message-Id: <199902160822.JAA19562@lark.natlab.research.philips.com.>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Note: It seems like posting directly to the w3c-wai-ig-d 
digest list does not end up in the w3c-wai-ig archive? I'm 
sorry if you received the following posting twice, as I now
sent it to w3c-wai-ig...

The following web page contains a Java applet with
interactive audio output. The applet has a sound cursor
that is first activated via a Javascripted text link, 
after which mouse position determines the sound output
of the sound cursor. So it should in principle be 
accessible to screen readers using a hardware sound synth
or a second sound card (to get around the infamous audio
conflicts in for instance Windows-95), while working with 
any browser that has at least Java 1.02 support.

The test page is at


   and at my mirror site page http://www.gironet.nl/home/meijerpb/blindraw.htm

Notes for blind visitors:

   Full instructions are given on the web page, but 
   basically you just wait up to a few minutes for 
   the Java applet to load until you hear a low rate 
   clicking, meaning that the Java applet is ready 
   for use. Then you activate the "sound cursor" text 
   link on the page using your screen reader, and move
   the mouse around more or less randomly (or better
   still, by manual scanning) until you find you are 
   over the drawing canvas. You will hear this happening
   because there will be a sound cursor beep when the 
   mouse is hovering over the canvas. This beep also 
   indicates the mouse position and you can start to 
   draw and hear your own "soundscapes".

The page has been tested to work well without a 
screen reader in Microsoft Explorer 4.01, Netscape 
3.0 and Netscape Communicator 4.06. It will be an 
acid test for your screen reader though. Your screen 
reader must allow for audio applications to sound, 
so in practice this will typically mean that you 
are using a second sound card or a hardware synth,
because in this example it is not possible to switch
sound between screen reader and Java sound output.
A Java engine will often just fail to give any sound 
once it cannot immediately get hold of your sound card.

Is the page accessible? If not, why not? Which screen
reader / browser combinations succeed, and which don't?
I welcome reports on the various quirks/bugs/flaws in 
combinations of screen reader and Java-enabled browsers.

In my opinion, this particular Java page should prove 
accessible without requiring any special "accessibility
extensions" for Java, because it was designed to work 
with only regular features commonly supported by browsers 
and screen readers. If the page appears not accessible, 
there must be bugs in need of fixing?

Best wishes,

Peter Meijer

E-mail: meijer@natlab.research.philips.com
Soundscapes from The vOICe - Seeing with your Ears!
Received on Tuesday, 16 February 1999 03:26:53 UTC

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