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Re: heading question


From: Michael Ausbun
Date: Dec 15, 2019 5:28PM

In my experience as a screen reader user and former assistive technology instructor, most students who receive vocational rehabilitation services or blindness adjustment and orientation training in the United States (A) use JAWS; and (B) navigate using the general heading shortcut key (H for jaws). The following observation will be framed in the context of jaws:
The population of people receiving vocational rehabilitation services in the United States is fairly substantial, and, the age ranges anywhere from 14 in some states to 90. For example, in Utah alone, approximately 11,000 people receive services through the department of services for the blind and visually impaired. When people receive computer services, most are provided a windows PC with JAWS and instructed how to use the basics for daily living, including basic web browsing (I believe students should learn multiple screen readers, but my opinion is a minority thought).
My thought:
Heading hierarchy is really, really important for spatial and contextual orientation to web pages.
General belief:
With the inconsistencies in:

* Heading application
* Heading sequential ordering
* Heading placement
* Heading hierarchy
* Heading text
Relying on headings for orientation and navigation is inefficient. If headings are well structured; and, if headings are used for each section of a web page; and, if headings are sequentially ordered; and, if heading texts are clear, concise, and descriptive; then, using the 1-6 heading level navigation coupled with JAWS+F6 for curating all headings on a page is helpful. However, because most are not, using the H key is sufficient beyond familiar documents.
If we as a community pushed harder for a consistent structure-similar to the way header, nav, main, aside, footer, etc. landmark regions have been implemented in HTML5, I think the efficiency would be significantly improved, and, the instruction within rehabilitation instruction would significantly improve as well.
Right now though, a rather substantial population-at least in the US-is being instructed more to rely on general V. specific navigation methods. With the poor quality of assistive technology instruction in the K-12 system, and with the increase of blindness as a result of aging, I tend to believe this trend will continue, with the majority of users who are not experts (most) following this pattern.
Not really sure any of this is helpful, but I had to get my thoughts out-they have been floating around my head all weekend.
Hope all is well!