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Re: Do style sheets have any effect on screen readers?

From: Ben Caldwell <caldwell@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 10:47:57 -0500
Message-Id: <199908111548.KAA08390@trace.wisc.edu>
To: "Leonard R. Kasday" <kasday@acm.org>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org


For browsers that allow users to completely turn off style sheets, there
any problems created for screen readers that I'm aware of. However, many of
CSS definitions ( float, position, etc..) that impact the visual layout of a
page will result in the same problems created by tables if they can't be

At http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q183/7/17.asp, I found an
interesting support article about being unable to disable style sheets in
Internet Explorer (This is only an issue for IE 4 and 5 on the PC). Regarding
the inability to disable stylesheets as a whole, the article states, "This
behavior is by design" and gives you the option to edit the registry if you
really want to disable them completely (BTW, doing this makes an incredible
mess out the Microsoft site). Ironically enough, current versions of IE for
Mac do allow the end user to disable style sheets completely. IE will,
allow you to override CSS font style, size and color changes, so CSS that only
modifies text does not cause any problems that I've come across so far.

So, absolutely, positively and definitely sure might not quite cut it, but as
far as speech enabled browsers, pre CSS browsers, and properly customizable
newer browsers, CSS shouldn't have any adverse affects. 

Hope this helps,


At 10:40 AM 8/11/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Theoretically style sheets shouldn't affect screen readers or speech
>enabled browsers, and I don't have any reason to think they would.  The
>screen reader should simply ignore the style sheet while reading the HTML. 
>But you never know what quirks might pop up in software, and I've been
>asked if I'm absolutely, positively, definitely sure there will be no
>Has anyone run into any glitches?
>If you've read a lot of pages that use style sheets without any problems
>please say that also.
>Of course, I'm speaking of visual style sheets having no effect, not audio
>style sheets.
>Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
>Universal Design Engineer, Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
>Adjunct Professor, Electrical Engineering
>Temple University
>Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
>(215) 204-2247 (voice)
>(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Ben Caldwell - Web/Information Specialist 
Trace Research & Development Center 
email: caldwell@trace.wisc.edu | http://www.trace.wisc.edu 
Tel: 608.265.2064 | Fax: 608.262.8848
Received on Wednesday, 11 August 1999 11:52:56 UTC

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