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What do screen readers really say?

Sent by Al Sparber on 9 September 2003 15:03

I think for critical issues (like basic content accessibility and
navigation) one needs to jump through hoops to support the fact that most
popular screen readers are way behind the times, technologically and
standards-wise. For non-critical or convenience issues such as a skip link
or playing with link separators to get a "Bobby" pass for a client, then one
might consider taking the same approach with screen readers as one takes
with visual browsers. That is, code for standards (@media aural is a
standard and certainly one that screen reader authors should have jumped on)
and accept a certain level of non-mission critical degradation in older
"browsers". Anything short of that would be dichotomous, in my opinion...
all things considered. Perhaps a WaSP-like organization is needed for the
screen reader industry :-)

Al Sparber - PVII
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From: "Bob Easton" [EMAIL-REMOVED]>
Subject: [css-d] What do screen readers really say?

> Many of us are moving from table based layouts to CSS based layouts and
> throwing out all of the spacer images too. One of the other things to
> get thrown out is the age old practice of attaching the accessibility
> links (skip navigation) to a spacer image.  Instead, we now see
> designers putting skip navigation links, and other sorts of
> accessibility material, in pages as simple text and then hiding it from
> the screen with display:none.
> The problem is that it does not work as expected. In all of the major
> screen readers, when you hide material from visual display, you also
> hide it from screen readers.
> This conclusion comes from research I did recently with a test suite
> that was answered by people using a wide range of screen readers and
> other assistive technology.
> The test suite:
> The results:
> Please read the results. It will answer a few of the likely questions.
> i.e. No, current screen readers do not read aural style sheets.
> i.e. The best way to hide skip nav links is the way we have always done
> it, with a link on a small / unobtrusive / or transparent image.
> -- 
> Bob Easton

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