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Re: Testing with Screen Readers (was RE: Wai Aria how useful?)

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From: Jared Smith
Date: Jul 28, 2010 8:39AM


On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 6:47 AM, Langum, Michael J wrote:

> Jared,  Do you think there might be value in doing a survey on testing methodologies?

Yes. Stay tuned. ;-)

I don't think that develop testing in screen readers is useless.
There's a lot that can be gained by simply listening to your page in a
screen reader. Of course most of the things that can be identified
this way can also be identified through automated tools, particularly
something like the Text-only View in WAVE, which approximates what a
screen reader might read.

Screen reader testing best identifies interaction and structural
issues that aren't apparent visually or even through reading through
the page. Thus it becomes more vital for more interactive pages.
Fortunately, it's not overly difficult to learn how to use screen
readers to do basic interaction. We have articles for JAWS
(http://webaim.org/articles/jaws/), NVDA
(http://webaim.org/articles/nvda/), and (very soon) VoiceOver to get
you started.

Three additional points:

- Screen reader testing should be but one aspect of a broader
evaluation methodology.

- Some caution needs to be employed in blind screen reader testing.
How do they know if something is inaccessible if it's inaccessible?
It's quite possible that something could be skipped entirely and they
may not even know it. Watching the screen reader tester interact with
the page is very valuable.

- Be careful with accessibility testing with screen reader users.
Instead, conduct usability testing with many users, including screen
reader users. If you focus only on accessibility issues (this image
has poor alt text, this text box is missing a label, etc.) you could
end up with a very technically accessible web site that is entirely
unusable as a whole to screen reader users.

Jared Smith
WebAIM