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


From: Elizabeth Pyatt
Date: May 12, 2017 12:35PM


The discussion about detecting screen reader use is very enlightening to me and I agree that it could be harmful.

Clearly, it would be unethical to collect that data tied to a specific individual. I am also against using any sniffing technique to direct a user to a 'text-only- site. In fact, using detection to push mobile devices to a less functional site is equally bad.

However, it should be noted that many reports such as Google Analytics provide aggregate reports on detected browsers/OS combinations. This can help webmasters make decisions such as whether it is viable to enable a particular new web technology (e.g. new CSS attributes, plugins, tags, etc) and how much effort must be made to support older systems. Back in the 2000s, when use of Netscape 4.7 finally dropped off, I jumped for joy because I could finally get rid of many FONT tags and use CSS.

An example applicable to the screen reader community is when particular ARIA attributes are supported or not supported by different screenreader platforms. We may know that some older screenreader versions don't quite fully support all the ARIA specifications, but knowing generally which versions (in an aggregate sense) might be used can help determine what new technologies can be fully implemented.

Based on the responses I have seen, I would not recommend implementing a sniffing algorithm at this time at this time. But I did want to point out why someone might want to do that for legitimate reasons that could benefit the community.


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Accessibility IT Consultant
Teaching and Learning with Technology
Penn State University
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