Web Assistive Technologies

Examples of Web Assistive Technology

  • Alternative Keyboard
  • Alternative Mouse
  • Head Wand
  • Mouth Stick
  • Refreshable Braille Display
  • Screen Magnifier
  • Screen Reader
  • Voice Recognition software

Examples of Screen Magnifiers/Screen Readers

Zoom Text by AI Squared – screen magnifying software that makes computers accessible/friendly to low-vision users.

JAWS by Freedom Scientific – popular screen reading software. Uses internal speech synthesizer and computer’s sound card to read info from computer screen aloud.

NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) – free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Apple Voice Over – Available on Mac OS X

Window Eyes – a Windows screen reader for Microsoft Office applications as well as the web.

WebAnywhere – an online screenreader

How screen readers read a web page

  • Screen readers announce the page title (the <title> attribute in the HTML markup).
  • Screen readers try to pronounce acronyms and nonsensical words if they have sufficient vowels/consonants to be pronounceable; otherwise, they spell out the letters.
  • When reading words letter by letter, JAWS distinguishes between upper case and lower case letters by shouting/emphasizing the upper case letters.
  • Screen readers will read the alt text of images, if alt text is present. JAWS precedes the alt text with the word “graphic.” If the image is a link, JAWS precedes the alt text with “graphic link.”
  • Screen readers ignore images without alt text.
  • If the image without alt text is a link, screen readers will generally read the link destination.
  • Screen readers can announce headings. JAWS, for example, precedes <h1> headings with “heading level 1.”
  • Some screen readers announce the number of links on a page as soon as the page finishes loading in the browser.
  • JAWS says “same page link” if the link destination is on the same page as the link itself.
  • Screen readers in table navigation mode (users have to activate this mode) inform the user how many rows and columns are in a table.
  • Users can navigate in any direction from cell to cell in table navigation mode. If the table is marked up correctly, the screen reader will read the column and/or row heading as the user enters each new cell.
  • Screen readers inform users when they have entered into a form. Users have the option to enter form navigation mode.

How Users use Assistive Technology

WebAIM Survey of Users of Screen Readers

WebAIM Survey of Low Vision Users

Class Example