Insights Into Screen Reader Usage

Posted November 20th, 2007 by Mike Cherim

Most developers who design sites to be screen reader friendly, aren’t actually screen reader users. I am no exception. Sure I’ve heard recordings of screen readers reading my pages, and I use Opera Voice, and I have a very good idea of what most content will sound like when read by screen readers so I’m not completely blind to the concept, but never have I plunked myself down in front of a computer with screen reader software and played around with it. But I am interested.

Because of this interest, when Cheryl Wise posted a link for a hands-on video to the mailing list of the Guild of Accessible Web Designer (GAWDS), I got right on it — and I’m glad I did. It’s great. The video, titled “An Introduction to Screen Readers” by Yahoo Accessibility Engineer, Victor Tsaran, will be a real eye-opener for some.

Is descriptive link text important? Yes. Are headings important? Yes. Is proper, semantic markup valuable? Yes, again. Victor mentions near the beginning that the advantages to addressing all these points are solely the users’ and that’s the only part I don’t agree with. The advantages to making a site that accommodates the needs of screen reader users benefits many users and can play a big role in the web site’s success.

Thank you Cheryl for sharing your find, and thank you, Victor, for putting it together.

4 Responses to: “Insights Into Screen Reader Usage”

  1. Laura Whitehead responds:
    Posted: November 20th, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Mike,
    Awareness raising of website accessibility is slowly but surely taking place here in the UK currently which is good.
    On the theme of your post on screen readers, I’ve tried several different applications for testing sites and designs with; and blogged yesterday about a wonderful screen reader which is free for home use. free screen reader to assist the blind and visually impaired which you may interested in seeing.

  2. Laura responds:
    Posted: November 21st, 2007 at 6:10 am

    I’ve made contact with Roger and hope to help him to get wider support and funding for the software. Accessibility is a two way thing, not only enabling all to have a better experience on the web with good thoughtful design but helping promote the sources of support and ‘how to’s’ available too to help others to lead an inclusive life.
    (very much like your recent article on the resizing text buttons - I am currently still struggling with a client who insist that I use them for their forthcoming website no matter what I say…will keep trying!)

  3. dotjay responds:
    Posted: December 3rd, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, Mike.

    I’ve wanted to post for a couple of months now about the videos I’ve found interesting, but just never got around to it. Other people had already posted about Victor’s screen reader video, so I thought a collection of videos with some commentary on them might be interesting.

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