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What do screen readers really say?

Sent by John Colby on 13 September 2003 21:09

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At 13:48 13/09/2003 -0400, Eric A. Meyer wrote:

>At 21:13 -0400 9/12/03, Trish and John Day wrote:
>>BUT... wouldn't you want your navigation to be first? After all, that IS
>>what is most important to a first time visitor of any of your pages...
>>knowing how to get around. It's just also equally important to be able to
>>bypass it if you've already been there, done that.
>    In my recent designs (both and, I've 
> put the source in the order masthead-content-sidebar-navigation-footer, 
> and provided skiplinks to the post-content sections of the document.  I 
> use 'display: none' to hide the skiplinks, a technique I may have to 
> reconsider in light of this thread.

No Eric, you don't want navigation first - you need to know what the site's 
about before you want to navigate round or away from it. This applies to 
all classes of visitors, not just those who need special considerations. 
Your way is good and works.

The way I'm teaching it is to consider the way you present information for 
the first time visitor. If THAT is good, then you have succeeded. Then you 
need the second and subsequent time visitor who remembers your site - you 
have to assume intelligence and the knowledge that they (in things like 
Jaws,) can press a key combination to go to the links. If they're not a 
first visitor and can't remember what the site's about then you need to 
introduce it again. - at any time during the intro they can skip.

The technology is in place to do just what were taking about - I don't 
think that we need make special provision.

One thing I've thought of during this diatribe - don't underestimate the 
intelligence of the user who needs this technology. During my researches 
I've become friends with several guide dogs (seeing-eye dogs) and I've 
taken to carrying round dog biscuits with me (donated by my own two mutts). 
Physical disability does NOT go hand in hand with mental problems, although 
unfortunately many people treat it as if it does.

I feel immensely privileged to work with so many people whose sight is less 
than perfect - they're teaching me so much about how to listen - something 
I'm now able to teach my own general students.

I get the sense that many people are not able to research this subject 
first hand, as I am, and are into making assumptions. There's so many 
accessibility guidelines about in the field that we're all getting confused 
- and some of those guidelines are based on assumption after assumption 
without concrete evidence to back them up. I think some serious academic 
research is called for. But research, commissioned by the Disability Rights 
Commissions, is going on with Professor Helen Petrie at City University 
(London, UK) at the moment so I think we should wait for the results, 
scheduled for the end of this month. I'm waiting before committing any of 
my research time because I could easily be duplicating her work




John Colby
Lecturer, School of Computing, Faculty of Computing, Information and English
F328a Feeney Building,  University of Central England, Franchise Street
Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU phone +44 (0)121 331 6937


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