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WordPress and JAWS
Blind Site Owner and Navigation

 8:44 pm on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)


I am working with a blind site owner who uses JAWS to navigate his site. The dilemma we've run into is that he claims that for him to navigate his site with JAWS, all his articles need to be Pages that are listed in the sidebar.

He has been writing like crazy and now that list is way too long in the sidebar and not very user-friendly for the sighted which he admits is the majority who will view his site.

He is resistant to properly structuring his topics into categories with posts within as he claims doing so will make the site difficult for him to navigate. I am not familiar enough with JAWS to know if this is true or if he has other options.

Our main nav is already going below the fold as well making it pretty much useless.

Has anyone worked on something like this and have any suggestions that will both make the site more navigable for the sighted and the site owner?




 1:54 pm on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I haven't but I'd like to know why he thinks Pages make a difference. In fact, if JAWS is ADA compliant then start with the US Federal Government's ADA Toolkit Page: [ada.gov...]


 8:02 pm on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

@lorax... Thanks, I am familiar with the above link. ;-) ADA compliant or not is moot. It is what he uses and what I am being told the site has to cater to.

I've tried to explain pages/posts/categories and how they should not make a difference in his ability to navigate and get no where. Still he is stuck on pages all listed in the sidebar.

I was hoping to find someone who worked with JAWS on a WordPress site so they could educate me to better help this client. He has explained that unless his articles are pages, all listed in the sidebar, he cannot navigate them.

Is this a limitation of JAWS or an instance of not knowing JAWS features?


 9:17 pm on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well JAWS is an office productivity suite and the browser is IE so only a part of the package is in play. It should be ADA compliant and therefore, if you've you've made the site ADA compliant, then you've done your job. IF JAWS is not ADA compliant then he's asking you to build something that may not be viewable/audible to other handicap visitors.

What exactly is his issue?


 3:01 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hey, Lorax...

The site is on WordPress/Default theme. Only a contact form plugin. His concern is that if we go to Categories with Posts that he won't "see" all the posts in a long list in the sidebar as he does now with all his articles as pages.

I've explained how the Category archive page would work and the benefits for the sighted that would come to his site but he still is resisting.

This came up because the first thing I noticed on the site is the Navs are not consistent, user-friendly or organized in any intuitive categories. The previous helper just did what he said and he contacted me when that person fell off the map...

If I can tell him that JAWS would be able to easily navigate categories and posts (I don't know why not but am not sure hence my post here) then I know that it is his preference not inabilities.

From what I can find out -- JAWS may do exactly what he wants -- he just doesn't know it:

"Sighted users experience Web pages in two dimensions, which allows their eyes to move directly to the page's content. Assistive technologies such as JAWS present Web pages in one dimension (that is to say, they linearize the page). If JAWS encounters a navigation bar with 20 links, disabled users must read through every one of these links before being able to access the next part of the page. Even if they use the tab or arrow keys to move from link to link, this is a tedious process."



 3:59 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I say create a bunch of dummy posts with Lorem Ispum text and test his concern/theory out. Contact JAWS directly to see what they have to say. At least that's what I'd do. :)


 4:28 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks, lorax! And, that's what I'll do! ;-)

Hopefully, I'll be able to help others based on what I learn from this experience.


 1:32 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, please do stop back and let us know!


 2:51 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's a deal -- the plan is to set up the Test categories and pages tomorrow. I'll come back and advise what the site owner's comments are! ;-)


 9:15 pm on Jan 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

Update! After taking the time to help the site owner understand the difference between how pages and categories/posts are organized and therefore displayed, I put up a bunch of test categories and posts.

Turns out he could navigate them just fine -- very easily in fact! I'm thinking the struggle and push-back we initially had was a lack of confidence that by not having every article as a page in a long list in the sidebar that things would become overly difficult for him to "see" his own site.

Now that he has experienced what I set up and explained -- all is well. And, his site will be more intuitively organized and user-friendly for the sighted too!

HTH! ;-)


 10:43 pm on Jan 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

That's what I thought/was hoping would happen. Glad you got it sorted!

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