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How assistive software

From: Jean-Marie D'Amour <jmdamour@inlb.qc.ca>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 20:33:53 -0500
Message-ID: <001101c1cee6$21593960$6401a8c0@soussol>
To: "WAI-IG" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hello all,

My colleague Catherine Roy and me will give a presentation at CSUN wenesday
at 14h50, room Newport at Hilton. The title is: How assistive software
supports Web Accessibility.

Here is the introduction:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has
published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and the Techniques
for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. There are 14 guidelines and 65
check points.  These check points refer to 85 different techniques.  All of
these elements comprise what is asked of Web developers.

However, screen reader software doesn't always provide access to information
required from Web developers to ensure content accessibility.  For example,
complex images, like diagrams and graphics, must have a long description via
the "longdesc" attribute.  And only the most recent version of JAWS and IBM
Home Page Reader, a voice browser, give access to this particular
information.  As a result, Web authors are asked to use the "longdesc"
attribute and to add a d-link as an alternate solution.

Among Web accessibility experts and Web developers trying to make their
sites accessible, numerous questions have been raised concerning the way
various assistive software treat or simply ignore the accessibility
information added to pages.  Not surprisingly, developers are rather
unmotivated to bring modifications that will hardly be, if at all,
considered by the assistive software.  And when the accessibility
information is treated, they would like to understand how it will actually
be rendered to users in order to adjust their methods to attain the desired

Unfortunately, the aforementioned example isn't an isolated case.  That is
why we felt it necessary to conduct this comparative study on various screen
readers and text to voice browsers in order to verify to what extent these
tools support Web accessibility recommended by the WAI as well as to explain
how the accessibility information is treated or not and how it is
transmitted to users.

Our study answers such questions and could become a useful reference tool to
those concerned with Web accessibility.  Additionally, our evaluation
proposes recommendations for screen reader software developers that would
allow them to improve support to Web accessibility.  To attain this goal,
there is effectively a need for Web and assistive technology developers to
work together.


Jean-Marie D'Amour, M.Ed.
CAMO pour personnes handicapées
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Received on Monday, 18 March 2002 20:33:56 UTC

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