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Re: Web development; How to identify if a screen reader is in use


From: Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Date: May 11, 2017 1:09PM

Another aspect of this is that there are tens of likely combinations
of screen readers, browsers and operating system, not to mention
customizations by users (e.g. auto forms mode or verbosity settings).
was reminded of this when I had a discussion a few days ago with a
friend of mine who is one of the best accessibility pros in the
business. She was thinking about changing a component because NVDA
intercepts the escape key, even in application mode, so users with a
menu widget open need to press escape twice to close it.
Sure, we can add role="application" to the container (or I think it
will work) as a hack to address that NVDA habit, but it would confuse
NVDA users that use a similar widget on other sites.
This is a standard menu widget, and pressing the escape key is coded
to close the menu and place focus on the trigger element. This is
coded exactly as recommended in the ARIA authoring Practices Guide.

I was working with mainstream developers a few months ago that added
so much invisible text to explain visual formatting, that it made it
difficult to read the webpage. They wanted all screen reader users to
understand all the intricacies of the visual formatting. I love the
centiment, but it ended up making a less accessible webpage.

Bottom-line, your average developer, not even a professional
developer, can understand or anticipate the intricacies of using every
screen reader. Even if they did, there are so many combinations that
they couldn't code for them all, or it would take weeks to write one
complex widget to suit all combinations in all situations.
This is why we have a standard. We need web developers to follow the
standard, but we also have to rely on browser vendors and assistive
technology vendors to translate standards compliant code to the best
possible end user experience.
This is the only way the web can become universally accessible.
To Jon's point, Yes, I agree we have too little user experience
research and too much hearsay about the accessible experience of the
WE need to systematically and actively involve real users using real
assistive technologies in real situations in our research and
So if we can develop technology that can do that on a large scale,
without targeting individuals and invade their privacy or security, I
applaud that idea. It is just hard to develop such technology. The
saying "guns don't kill people" is simply not true.

On 5/11/17, John Contarino x245 < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> I better give an update to reasoning for my question.
> Thanks for all the applies; still going through them. I didn't take into the
> account the possible privacy side of the question.
> The thought first came into mind while I was using the screen reader testing
> and did a quick search for Weather Underground.
> Upon getting to the 10 day report it was defaulted on the descriptive tab
> view.
> Our site makes use of descriptive/narrative data display. I thought did the
> weather underground site know I was using AT and defaulted this view...
> Turns out not the case for those wanting to know after testing with SR turn
> off.
> My only thought was as a way to improve the user's experience with default
> views of descriptive/narrative views of data tables.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Contarino x245 [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
> Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2017 11:48 AM
> Subject: [WebAIM] Web development; How to identify if a screen reader is in
> use
> Hi,
> Is it possible in web site development to identify if a screen reader is in
> use by the end user?
> Similar to how different browsers are identified and can be interpreted in
> code based on browser.
> Thanks.
> John Contarino
> Programmer Analyst
> > > > >

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