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Introduction to Screen Readers

A Yahoo UI Blog Video

10:51 am on Jul 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have not yet had a chance to review this completely, but it seems to be five-by-five for this forum's mission:


[edited by: encyclo at 2:02 pm (utc) on July 27, 2007]

9:48 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A very interesting introductory article about screenreader technology. What I like about the video is that it assumes no prior knowledge of how a screenreader linearizes the page, and it explains not only how the page is handled by the reader, but also how a user interacts with the program and uses the features such as isolating the list of links to navigate and comprehend the contents of the page.

It's well worth taking the time to view this video, as it will make attempts at increasing accessibility more focussed and successful.

12:26 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks cmarshall for the link and I'd like to thank Victor Tsaran for taking just over 27 minutes of his valuable time to share what he does. I'm disappointed that I didn't see this when it was first posted. I'll make up for it now. :)

Victor is pretty amazing. His Introduction to Screen Readers is a must see for anyone designing websites. While many may not realize it at first, Victor does a very good job of highlighting some of Yahoo!'s faults when it comes to accessibility and usability. I would have really liked to have seen a second view of his keyboard while performing the demonstration.

During the video, you'll "hear" just how annoying the Yahoo! site is for Victor. Its an old tabled structured layout (converted to CSS) and is "stuffed" with information. The <body> element can't be seen until line 2,476 in the HTML. Poor Victor goes through his shortcut routines and gets to "hear" all the garbage that is "Front-Loaded" on the pages he is visiting.

Overall though, it is not that bad of an experience for Victor. But, he does this 8, 9, 10 hours per day. He states that he knows the Yahoo! page layout and has familiarized himself with "where things are".


I think Victor mentioned the term Headings at least 50 times during those 27 minutes. The Screen Reading software relies heavily on "semantically structured documents".


Another element mentioned frequently by Victor are Lists. Watch and listen carefully during the video. Particularly when Victor is using the Yahoo! Search page towards the end of the presentation. This is where he explains his familiarity with the layout of Yahoo!'s search page.

133 Links

Hehehe, even Victor knows that 133 links is way too many links on a page. ;)

Source Ordered Content

Victor's browsing experience could have been vastly improved by utilizing SOC.

SOC - Source Ordered Content
What is it? How does it work? What benefits are there?

At the very end of the video, Victor does something rather amazing. For the presentation, Victor brought everything to a slow crawl in how the Screen Reader was interpreting pages, that's why it sounds so damn annoying. At the end, he shows us how he really browses. The voice synthesization changes, things speed up, and I cannot understand what the Screen Reader is saying. But, Victor can. It's speed reading for the Internet's visually impaired. :)

Bravo to Victor. And kudos to Yahoo! for allowing Victor to unveil some of their own shortcomings. :)