User Error or Screen Reader Deficiency?
In the item I wrote yesterday about the interfaces to a pair of google
online applications (gmail and blogger), I stated that JAWS required
one to switch to the basic html view on gmail, which is definitely the
case. I also stated that JAWS works deplorably on the blogger pages,
to which, Darrell Shandro, my friend and a guy I trust a lot posted a
comment saying that blogger, in fact, works quite well with both JAWS
and System Access. As Darrell has used the blogger interface for
quite some time and I have rarely used it, preferring instead to post
my Blind Confidential items via the blogger for Word button bar with
the old blogger interface and with its email feature in the new
interface, the problems I experienced with it are as likely to be user
error or a lack of familiarity on my part as deficiencies in JAWS 8.
I will defer to Darrell's assessment and, therefore, make the
assumption that the blogger interface can be used with JAWS in a
reasonably accessible manner and will go back to blogger to
One problem I have experienced with the google and, for that matter,
various Microsoft online features have nothing to do with screen
reader access but, rather, the distortion they add to their audio
alternatives to visual verification. I recently had my hearing
checked and the results said my hearing is above average. Thus, I
don't think the problems I experience result from my audio input
So, I believe that in their attempts to provide an accessible
alternative to the visual CAPCHA while maintaining a high degree of
security, google and Microsoft have inadvertently created a system
that continues to stand in the way of my getting past a Turing test.
Yesterday, I had a Skype chat with Darrell about an unrelated issue
but he mentioned that he could successfully use the google audio
alternative but not the one that Microsoft offers, so your results may
vary from my own. In the google sounds, I can pick out some of the
characters it plays but I have yet to actually get all of them and, in
a system that requires one enter the information exactly as presented,
I find myself unable to do so. On the Microsoft site, I don't think I
heard a single thing that it required me to type in. Either way, I'm
SOL with either site.
For blogger, I will install Word 2007 and check out its blog
interface. As all three of the Windows screen readers I use with any
frequency perform reasonably well with Word, I'll predict that this
feature will work pretty well with all three. Of course, my
predictions tend to be wrong so, for all I really know, the actual
results may suck out loud.
I haven't spent more than an insignificant amount of time with any
Office 2007 applications other than Word and Outlook so I can't say
anything about the entire suite. When one gets the knack of using the
Word ribbon interface, I think they will generally like it primarily
do to its context sensitivity. In previous versions of Word (I've
been using it since version 3.0 for DOS back in 1986), I have found
myself searching around its interface to get to features that I do not
use often. The new Word interface, because of its contextual nature,
makes finding features related to what one is doing much simpler than
in the past.
I find the Office 2003 keystroke compatibility feature of Word 2007
quite confusing because it doesn't contain all of the keystrokes I've
grown accustom to using over the years. In general, when a program
claims keystroke compatibility with an earlier version of itself or
with a competitor's product, I find that such causes confusion if some
of the keystrokes with which one has familiarity do not work. I
believe that one will lose confidence in a compatibility layer when
they need to remember which keystrokes work and which do not.
Well, this post has wandered pretty aimlessly so I'll just end it here
so I can get on with my real work.