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Re: Help!


From: Jon Abolins
Date: Nov 22, 2002 2:34PM

>>> <EMAIL REMOVED> 11/22/02 11:24AM >>>
> does anyone know of a way to detect if a user coming to a web site is
> assistive technology such as a screen reader? I think this would be
> information to have in order to help present information in the way
> would be useful to a visitor to a web site.


I don't have the full answer for you but here are some partial answers
and comments...

1. If the assistive technology identifies itself, say, via the User
Agent value picked by the Web server then it is possible to adjust
information presentation.

2. One commercial product used to analyze visiting browsers is Browser
Hawk ( http://www.browserhawk.com/ ) but I don't know if it can directly
detect any assistive technology devices.

3. Not all assistive technology would be identified to the Internet
software. While a Web browser made to directly output text into speech
might be detectible, a screen magnifier program for people with
low-vision might not identify itself. Another example of unlikely-to-be
detected assistive technology items would be specialized input devices
for people who cannot use a standard keyboard.

4. If you do find a way of identifying some assistive technology
devices, pay attention to the adjustments made for the visitors using
such devices. It is fine to change some things with the presentation.
Not good if the content gets out of synch with what other visitors

5. It may be best to prepare an overall accessible site and if you want
to provide special enhancements for certain needs, give the visitor the
option to choose the customization. This could avoid problems where a
person is tweaking her own adaptive tools to better handle the Web and a
site's assumed "adjustments that you need" colliding.

Jon Abolins

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