Monday, 7 April 2008

User friendliness and screenreaders

Anyone creating online information in the form of a web page will run it through an HTML/XHTML/XML/CSS validator, the most ubiquitous being the W3C Validator (I've used it too!) or Bobby (which seems to have been taken over by IBM and is no longer publicly available).

It's a great idea to make sure that the information can be read by those who use assistive technology (although I worry that those XHTML Valid buttons seem to have taken over as a way of saying "Look at me, I'm accessible", when the website looks as if it's been written by Jackson Pollock and anything but "accessible" ... I'll rant about "accessibility" another time).

Can the same be said for Web 2.0 applications? How well do they work with screenreaders? I thought I'd take my knowledge of using JAWS and put it to the test. I'm not visually impaired, but I have had conversations with a JAWS user who spends a lot of time online. She also assured me that she'd never had any trouble using (or buying from!) - I'd heard it was something of an accessibility nightmare.

So, where to start. I thought I'd take some Web 2.0 applications and see what I can come up with using JAWS (I'll also trawl around the web to see if anyone else has some info on these). Here's my basic list to start with:

1. Facebook (it'll give me an excuse to play with it at work!)
2. - see above for excuse!
3. - not too enamoured of this, but it could be useful

So I'll let you know how I get on.

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