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Re: IBM Home Page Reader


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Oct 16, 2001 9:52PM

Although this question was asked off the list, I would like to provide a
brief response on the list:
Do you have or know of a list of tags/attributes that each of the major AT's
Although I have been wanting to compile such a list for quite some time now,
I still have not done so, and I know of no other such list. Here is a
general answer though:
With few exceptions, the latest versions of the major screen readers and
so-called "talking browsers" support nearly all of the W3C recommendations.
Label tags and fieldset tags for form input elements work well. Table
headers work (as long as you don't use rowspan or colspan), alt attributes
for images work, headings work (e.g. <h1>), and other elements.
Here are the exceptions that I can think of off hand:
1. Table Headers don't work properly in JAWS if there are rowspans or
2. It seems that the "name" attribute of frames is read instead of the
"title" attribute when both are present. It is possible that the latest
versions of the software have corrected this, but I have not checked for a
3. Longdesc is sort of supported, but not satisfactorily, in my opinion, so
I still recommend providing some other means of providing longer
descriptions for images. Usually this means providing a "d" link (which
stands for "description" or "descriptive" link) to an external file. A "d"
link is nothing more than the letter d, as a hyperlink, placed after an
image. The link destination is a separate file with a longer description of
the image.
4. The abbr tag is not supported by JAWS.
5. The optgroup tag (within form drop-down lists) is not well supported.
This is largely the browsers' fault.
6. I have had trouble with very complex tables, with rowgroup and colgroup.
I'm not sure that these are supported yet.
7. Aural style sheets are not supported (that I know of). Aural style sheets
would allow web authors to specify the voice inflection, voice type,
loudness, softness, etc. of speech software.
Despite the fact that there are certain things which are not yet supported,
nearly all of the common elements are already supported. Don't get
discouraged when you look at the above list. There may be a couple of things
on this list that affect you, but chances are that most of them don't, at
this point. Assistive technologies are continually improving. They have made
life liveable for millions of individuals, despite the shortcomings that
they may have. Of course there is always room for improvement.
From a web developer's perspective: don't be afraid to use the standards.
With few exceptions, they are supported.
Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
Utah State University

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