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RE: The value of knowledge (was: repetitive navigation)


From: julian.rickards@ndm.gov.on.ca
Date: Feb 20, 2003 7:38AM

> I'm not sure exactly what a JAWs Friendly web site is... I
> know what a user
> friendly web site is, what a valid standards based web site
> is, and what a
> Universally Accessible web site is, but I did not know that
> we should be
> making JAWs specific web sites...

I agree with both your comments, John, and with Philip's.

To the same degree that a fully compliant HTML/CSS website should be
viewable by all, a website that is AAA-rated (WAI), should be accessible to
all. However, the problem with AAA-compliance are the same type of problems
that created the "browser wars" - not all browsers/speech readers interpret
the same code in the same way. This original thread of discussion dealt with
keyboard-use and moved on to "x works in IE but not in NN so you have to use
both x and y". Despite the fact that "x" may have met the AAA standard, "y"
had to be incorporated to support another browser. As web developers, we are
often told to view our work in multiple browsers to ensure that what we
created was "similar" or "the same" in all. I think that Philip was saying
that he needs more experience with JAWS to be certain that what he was
creating would be accessible: without being able to test his work, he could
not be certain.

John, on the otherhand, has not paid for JAWS but has FREE access to it via
his friend which places him at an unfair advantage compared with Philip. I
too am a part-time web developer and just recently, I submitted a 10 month
invoice for about $1500 USD of which, $900 could have been spent on JAWS
leaving me with only $600 USD out of which internet access and other
expenses would have to be taken before feeding my family. Of course, for me,
purchasing JAWS is not a current reality and if my sites don't work in JAWS,
then so be it - I can't afford to test them in JAWS.

Part of the problem with speech readers is that for sighted people like
myself, who don't use any of those types of applications, we don't know how
they react when we insert certain code. For example, IBM's HPR is CSS-aware
from a visual stand point so it is my understanding that display:none will
hide text from a visual user. Yet, it was a surprise to me to learn that
display:none does not hide text from a speech reader. Without this
knowledge, I would have assumed that display:none would hide it from speech
readers too. Another example is taken from my work where we have just gone
through the exercise of trying to make our website AA-compliant. In image
alt text, we were inserting "Image: Photo of trees" and in links, we were
adding title text "Link: Home Page of site" thinking that we had to identify
the image as an image and a link as a link not knowing what the speech
readers would do when encountering a graphic or a link. It appears that
"Image" and "Link" are redundant because the speech readers don't need to be
told that they are links or images.

To sum up, in my estimation, it is not the people who use speech readers who
are blind, when it comes to developing accessible websites, it is the
sighted people who are blind - unknowing of how the speech readers respond
to their code.

Sorry for the length - as my wife tells my friends, "If you want to make a
short story long, let Jules tell it".


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