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Re: Screenreaders and how they behave

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 09:50:28 -0400
To: Simon White <simon.white@jkd.co.uk>, "WAI List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <008301c22818$c02d0fe0$19e03244@DAVIDPOEHLMAN>

using a screen reader on the web is achin or exactly like using a
keyboard through the web.  you tab through and use the arrow keys to
manipulate buttons or type in edit fields and use space or enter on
submit buttons and check boxes.  Put the mouse in the drawer, turn off
the screen reader and follow the simple rule above.  if you can do it
with a keyboard, a screen reader user will do it.  This is not guided
navigation, this is pro active navigation and interaction.  A screen
reader more aptly called a screen access software package/program is a
tool that allows for interaction with the ui and content.  Notice, there
are two separate components here.  On the one hand, you have the ui
which is controlls and such.  On the other, you have content which is
that part which is static and unchangeable we hope.  In the latter case,
we use various means of accessinb it which provides powerfull features
like reading by chunks say letters, words, sentences and paragraphs as
well as spelling words and even asking for phonetic characterizations of
symbols such as alpha brabo charly for a b and c so that we can obtain
clarity if need be.

I'd be happy to assist anyone wanting to get a good handle on using a
screen reader to test web pages in doing so as I have a lot of
experience with this and have been using one my self since the early

----- Original Message -----
From: "Simon White" <simon.white@jkd.co.uk>
To: "WAI List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2002 9:39 AM
Subject: Screenreaders and how they behave

Dear All,
My boss has posed an interesting conundrum regarding screenreaders and
as neither of us are visually-impaired to the degree that we use
screenreaders every day, I feel that the only people who can answer this
for us are those who actually do use them all the time.

I have copied his comments to me to this list in the hope that someone
can answer this conundrum for me. I thank you all in advance.

Kind regards to all

While sites obviously pass all guidelines, they don't actually appear to
be practical for blind people to use with screenreaders. I looked at a
number of other sites and many of these problems are replicated across
all of them.

My particular concern is with forms - the screenreader races through the
boxes reading things like 'name, text, address, text... etc. Now I
appreciate that I am not completely blind, but it was difficult enough
to halt the screenreader at the right time when I could see where each
box was. I can only imagine what it would be like if you couldn't see
the prompts.

As you know, accessible projects will fail if people cannot fill in the
forms on a site. Is there any way to get screenreaders to stop at key
points, rather than merely delaying them through full stops? I envisage
a form where its purpose is explained properly at the outset, then the
option given to leave the page or continue with the form, and then the
screenreader takes the user through the form explaining what is required
and waiting for a user action before moving on. Is this either
appropriate or possible?

Simon White
Business Solutions
Westminster Business Square
1-45 Durham Street
SE11 5JH
Tel:  020 7793 9399
Fax: 020 7793 9299
URL:  www.jkd.co.uk

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Received on Wednesday, 10 July 2002 09:51:01 UTC

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