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Re: Screen Reader Survey Results


From: Noble,Stephen L.
Date: Jun 7, 2012 12:48PM

I would like to suggest that future surveys include something about access to non-literary text...primarily STEM content...especially mathematics. When I talk to screen-reader vendors about the need to support access to STEM content, especially content which contains Mathematical Markup Language (MathML), I receive rather cool responses. Typically, it is something akin to "we never hear from our customers" that users want to read such materials or that they never hear feedback from people that have problems trying to read math equations that aren't accessible. Therefore, it would very valuable to document both current practice (i.e., the number of users who read MathML content with screen-readers), as well as including inaccessible mathematics (e.g., the typical use of inaccessible gifs to present math) as one of the problematic items" in the list included in the survey.

--Steve Noble

From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [ <EMAIL REMOVED> ] on behalf of Andrews, David B (DEED) [ <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 3:29 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Screen Reader Survey Results

I think the survey is valuable, especially over a period of time. One of the things that struck me was the number of persons who reported themselves as expert or intermediate screen reader/computer users.

I think this means one of two things -- the survey responses aren't an accurate reflection of the skill level in the general blindness community, or that people think they are better than they are.

As some of you know, I run a bunch of blindness-related mailing lists. So, I read questions, answers, discussions etc., each and every day -- hundreds of messages. And ... more than 5 percent of the community are beginners.

I suspect that the cream of the crop, so to speak were the majority of survey respondents. I say this as an observation -- not a criticism.


-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Jared Smith
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 2:21 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Screen Reader Survey Results

Tim, thank you so much for your thoughts. They are very valuable.

On Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 12:49 PM, Tim Harshbarger wrote:
> However, I tend to think of it as more advisory than conclusive.

I don't think it's every been suggested that the surveys are conclusive. We know the screen reader survey is not representative of all screen reader users. We would love to do more in-depth research with controlled subjects to analyze actual behaviors and preferences.
We just need someone to fund such an expensive and difficult research project.

> User surveys like this measure what people believe their behavior is and not actually what their behavior is.

All surveys do this. Researching beyond perceived behavior is difficult. Of bigger concern is that presenting perceived behavior as fact can be detrimental to accessibility. If you ask users if they want a feature or not, they'll almost always say they want it, though if every site provided that feature it would probably make the web less accessible.

> From the survey, I get that the respondents definitely felt heading levels were useful. I'm not sure that tells me how they find it useful. Does it have to be h1, h2, h3?

These are things that are hard to get at in a survey. There were many respondents that indicated in the comments that they had no idea what we even meant by "headings levels" or "heading 1", so asking more specific details would just cause more confusion for many respondents.

> Honestly, I saw some groups pushing a lot harder to get their members to take the survey this year.

This is a concern that we have as well. We never intend it to be a popularity contest, but it is in some ways. Enough so that there was one respondent that took over 5 hours to complete the survey nearly
150 times so he could "better represent" his favorite screen reader and to lodge his repeated complaints against Facebook accessibility (to be clear, duplicate responses are NOT included in the survey results). At the same time, we love that we're getting more respondents to the surveys which lends more credibility to the results.