Author Avatar Assistive Technologies

by Webnme2 on Mar 20th 2010

Preparing for Assistive Technologies

As you design your web pages you should be giving some thought to how well your pages will perform for a disabled visitor using assistive technologies. This is not an easy task. For example, reader programs do not use a standardized approach to interpreting a web page. If for example, if a user is viewing your page with IBM’s voice reader and encounters an unordered list like the following:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Green

It will read the list as “red blue green” without a pause. If you code your unordered list with periods, it will pause at the end of each item helping the visitor to know you have a list.

If your visitor is using JAWS, the reader will read the list with pauses. If you add punctuation marks, it will read a “.” as “period” and a “-” as dash.

Recommendation: Consider adding punctuation to pages whenever you would like a reader program to pause for visitors to your page who are using assistive technologies. At worst they will hear the punctuation mark. For many, it will prevent your pages from sounding like an incomprehensible string of words.

Screen Readers That Are Worth a Look

About Webnme2

The author's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites. This is his personal blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

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