Monday, 5 May 2008

An interesting experiment

Well, I did what I said I was going to do, try out JAWS with various bits of Web 2.0 applications. Was it all a pointless application? Did I learn anything? I certainly think I did.
  1. I need to have more patience. If I needed to use this technology tomorrow, it would take me a lot longer to navigate round web pages. I'm so used to quickly looking at the page I'm on and finding my way by sight, it's suddenly a totally different learning experience to using your ears instead.
  2. There's an awful lot you have to listen too because there's an awful lot of information on web pages and not all of it necessary. I found it frustrating to be greeted by the same navigation list every time I went to another page when all I wanted was to read what was in the main body of text. Happily though, I discovered the wonders of short cut keys to skip between headings and lists of links. They make a huge difference.
  3. Alt text, alt text, please add alt text!! I found quite a few pages where graphics had no alt text. It's important, and not only for people who use screenreaders. On days when I'm not, it's still helpful to know what the picture stands for!
  4. Some pages I went to (I did flit around other sites in between faffing with Facebook) had 'Skip To' links but these were only accessible with screenreading software. Please don't hide these! Some people who rely on other accessibility software may find it useful. Having said that though, it can be a hindrance when you are using screenreaders as they can sometimes conflict with other shortcut keys the programme uses.
The internet and all web 2.0 applications give everyone the opportunity to socialise, network, interact, find information, learn more and meet others, shouldn't web developers make sure everyone can? Shouldn't we be open to talking to those who use accessibility tools? The internet is an open tool, you cannot decide how someone wants to use it and access the information, shouldn't we develop it accordingly?
The internet is interactive, shouldn't we all interact to improve it?

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