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About Bobby and Mac Screen Readers and not alt Re: screen readers for macs - also bobby question

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 18:15:26 +0100
Message-ID: <3E6F6B2E.7040703@sidar.org>
To: Julia Collins <julia@we3.co.uk>
CC: WAI List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>


Summary: There isn't a complete screenreader I can find for OS X, but 
lots of things that show the way and are helpful for testing. Bobby (and 
other evaluation tools) are useful, but do not give you a complete answer.

Screen Readers:

OS X includes some accessibility features natively, including a limited 
form of screen reading. In the system preferences there is one called 
universal access, which provides options such as speaking the text of 
every alert (in various configurable ways) or speaking text the mouse is 
over and I believe text that is selected. Combining this with good 
keyboard navigation can make for a basic screenreader - too basic for 
real work, but probably enough to understand what a screen reader might 
do (I used to do this to save batteries by turning the screen off, but 
would hate to work like that always. Then again, OS 9 had pretty poor 
keyboard support - maybe things are better now). There are also some 
utilities that go part of the way to doing this. Many applications on 
the Macintosh can also speak by default - again this isn't perfect at 
the moment, but it may be that full accessibility for screen-reader 
users comes from the Mac environment and development practice before it 
comes from a particular bit of "assistive technology".

The true screen reader for OS 9, OutSpoken by ALVA, does not appear to 
be available for OS X yet.

You  can search for assistive technology available for Apple on Apple's 
site: http://guide.apple.com/uscategories/assisttech.lasso

Bobby and other Tools:

There are a lot of tools available for testing facets of accessibility. 
Everyone has their favourites, and my favourites cost a lot of money. 
But for free there are still useful applications. The one thing all 
these systems have in common is that they need to be run by a skilled 
user to get good results. The things that a tool can work out on its own 
(there is some kind of structure in the page, there is some multimedia 
content, etc) are none of the interesting things (the structure actually 
reflects the structure in the content of the page, the multimedia is 
relevant and helpful for understanding the content, it has been made 
accessible in itself, etc...).

Not being able to get through an automated test is a cause for concern. 
But anyone whose judgement I trust on accessibility (and quite a few 
people whose judgement I don't trust) could come up with common use 
cases where they are right and the tool is wrong, as well as with cases 
where the tool simply has no effective test. Reading what the tool 
claims about its results and checking it is right, and reading what the 
tool asks you to do because it can't, are critical to getting any usful 
results from the tool.

(It's hard but not impossible to build a wooden box without a hammer and 
saw. But I never saw a hammer build a decent box...)


Charles McCathieNevile                           Fundacion Sidar

Julia Collins wrote:

>I know the new OSX is supposed to be a model of accessibility, but I can't
>find any sort of screen reader for it. Does anyone know where I can find
>Thanks to everyone who has helped me so far.  the pages we were having
>problems with now have passed bobby AAA and had w3c css and html validation,
>so we're getting there. But I bet there are views on how useful bobby
>validation is - at the risk of starting a landfall, I'd love to hear
Received on Wednesday, 12 March 2003 12:15:55 UTC

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