Replacing Vision - Using a Screen Reader


This ADE will provide you with a quick introduction to using a screen reader while navigating a user interface.

In this ADE your goal will be to use a screen reader (i.e., software that converts text to speech) to navigate and read several web pages written in white-on-white text and answer a few questions about each page.

At the end of this ADE, you will have experienced some of the difficulties of navigating and using websites with a screen reader and be able to discuss the impact of using speech as a primary modality in navigation and reading tasks.

The Department's computer labs provide two choices for screen readers:  Microsoft's Windows Narrator and Apple's VoiceOver.  Microsoft chooses to support third party screen reader development and, as a result, provides Windows Narrator as a very limited screen reading tool (it is mostly used during operating system and AT software installs).  Apple developed their own product for Mac OS X, VoiceOver, as part of the operating system.  

While screen readers that are included with operating systems provide basic functionalities, dedicated screen readers are often used to provide enhanced functionality.

What to Do:

  1. To begin, please view the video "Introduction to the Screen Reader". 
    NOTE: most of the available videos were created in Windows 7.
  2. JAWS is one of the most popular screen reading packages. 
    1. Please view Navigating Web Pages with JAWS. This is a very gentle introduction to using JAWS.
    2. Then please view Navigate Websites with JAWS. This introduces a lot more functionality than you need to use for this assignment.
  3. Download and install a demonstration version of JAWS.
    1. The installation requires a system reboot.
    2. The installation also comes with FSReader, Freedom Scientific's DAISY player software. DAISY is the Digital Accessible Information System format for e-publications that focuses on making them as fully accessible as possible.
  4. Once it is installed, you have 40 minutes to use it for free before it stops working. 
    1. You should try to get item 5 (below) done in the 40 minutes you have. Don't worry about reading all the pages that are linked to the 3 that you are to explore. Just get to them to see what they are about and hurry back to the pages that you can't see.
    2. The clock starts going from the time the installation is complete, whether or not you are actually using Jaws.
    3. Rebooting your system will allow you another 40 minute demo time. You shouldn't have to do this more than once.
  5. Use JAWS to navigate and read the three web pages listed below.  You will find that, visually, these pages appear to be written in white-on-white text (i.e., you will only see white).  You will also find that these pages will not allow you to select the text (i.e., no cheating!). 
Note: There is absolutely no guarantee that these web pages are fully accessible.  You are expected to only refer to these pages when completing this assignment.  Do not explore the source pages.

If while doing this exercise you get seriously lost, the Replacing Vision - Using a Screen Reader homepage (the page you are reading now) can be reached from any of these three pages using access key Control-4 on Mac (or ALT-4 on PC). The web pages are:
  1. Now please watch video "Screen Readers and the Web" to see some of the problems that screen readers and their users encounter.

What to Hand-in:

Submit a written report that:

  1. Answers the following questions:

    1. There are many links that do not work with this page, what kind of information does JAWS give you when the link doesn't work?
    2. Why might it be that it doesn't read exactly what you see on the screen?
  2. Describes your experience with this ADE (what worked, what did not work, where you had some trouble, where you had lots of trouble, etc.).
  3. Feedback
    1. What were your expectations of this ADE?
    2. Did this ADE meet your expectations? Provide a rating between 1 and 7, where 1 means not at all, 4 means somewhat, and 7 means absolutely. Please explain your choice.
    3. Did you feel that the video(s) for this ADE was appropriate? Why or why not? Provide a rating between 1 and 7, where 1 means not at all, 4 means somewhat, and 7 means absolutely. Please explain your choice.
    4. Do you have any suggestions for other possible videos?
    5. Did you feel that the questions above got you to think about the real and serious issues regarding this ADE? Provide a rating between 1 and 7, where 1 means not at all, 4 means somewhat, and 7 means absolutely. Please explain your choice.
    6. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this ADE, please include it here.