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What do screen readers really say?

Sent by Holly Marie on 11 September 2003 15:03

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kay Smoljak"
Subject: Re: [css-d] What do screen readers really say?

> Bob Easton wrote:
> >  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.
> I look after a reasonably large site used by an extremely wide and
> audience that I'd like to add some accessibility features to. As it's
> arts festival, the visual aspect is very important too.

A few years back, The Dayton Art Institute produced an Art Museum site
online with Accessibility features. It's a nice piece of work. Rich
Multimedia features, audio, transcripts, long descriptions, keyboard
access, javascript alternatives, CSS, Accessible Forms, Navigation,
research and testing, etc. It really is worth a visit for those
interested in delivery of art in an accessible way.
Acces Art:
[quote]From its initial planning stages, Access Art was designed to be
as accessible as possible to everyone, particularly people with
disabilities using adaptive computer equipment. This commitment to
accessibility is demonstrated throughout the site in many ways, some
obvious and some subtle. This section contains details about these
accessibility features in order to provide guidelines for other museum
Web sites to follow.[/quote] Accessibility Information link:

> One option that just occurred to me as I was reading this thread is to
> a stylesheet switcher (using server-side code) to turn on the "skip
> navigation" link, text-only titles, higher contrast colours etc. If
> place the link to this version somehow high in the source-order of the
> (and visually significant, in the main menu or something), both screen
> readers and visual browser-using people who require it could gain
> easily.
> I'm not very experienced with accessibility issues - can anyone see
> flaws in this approach?

Well, for people with mobility or motor issues and using a keyboard ...
seeing that link hit/activated or having some indication they are on a
skip navigation link would be really helpful. Coloring it the same as
the background, making it miniscule with an invisible gif image[realize
that title and alt do not pop tooltips to those navigating via a
keyboard.], and hiding visibility via CSS will not reach these people.
Hiding links or content via CSS may also hide it from some screen
reading tools, too.

A simple test for skip navigation feature.
Cost = Free, Time factor = minimal.
Put your mouse in a drawer or do not use it. Try to access the web page,
and skip navigation link, using only your keyboard. Do not think of the
features you put on that page, because a visitor may not know about
these. Try this on a few different browsers[some variation exists
between various browers when CSS, scripting, DHTML, or other items are
also in use. It is very good to test for this.]

You should be able to get to the skip link, and *know* it is a skip to
content link. Some browsers have bottom status bars that will change
when a link is in focus or when it changes.

You should be able to navigate to a Search box.[it may be optimal to
have a search function above or before the skip navigation link?]

You should be able to get to a link inside the content area. [the
quicker you are able to, the better.]

This skip link feature should be available when style sheets are loaded
or not. [there are many challenged users that visit pages and benefit
from visual elements of design, graphics, and also media.]


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