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What assistive technology does (and doesn't do)


From: Rachel Tanenhaus
Date: Dec 16, 2003 1:01PM


While giving a web accessibility workshop last week, I was approached by
a few web designers who had what I thought was an excellent question. I
had been explaining that there was no need to reference a link in the
alt text on an image map (in other words, one doesn't have to include
"link to <foo>" in the alt text), because user agents, including various
forms of assistive technology, were capable of identifying links.

"So all assistive technology [used for browsing the web] can identify
when something is a link?" they asked.

I answered in the affirmative - at least I *think* it all can - and they
wanted to know if there existed some list of functions that all AT could
perform, so that they could design their web pages accordingly. (frex:
they can all identify when something's a link, so you don't have to) Is
there a list of standards to which screen-readers, refreshable Braille
displays, etc. are designed? I don't know of one, but then again,
there's lots of stuff I don't know. :) And if no such list exists,
then how do we know that "all AT" performs a given function, and at what
point do we say that enough AT does something that we can design web
pages under the assumption that most AT can do that thing?

Thanks muchly,


Rachel H. Tanenhaus, MPH
Information Specialist
New England ADA & Accessible IT Center
374 Congress Street, Suite 301
Boston, MA 02210
Phone: (617) 695-0085 (v/tty)
or (800) 949-4232 (v/tty) (in New England)
Fax: (617) 482-8099
URL: www.NewEnglandADA.org

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