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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    List of surfing/screen reading software

    I always like to test sites on as many browsers as possible. To that end I will on most sites crack open my array of "normal" browsers; Opera, Mozilla, Ievil, Netscape (multiple versions), Phoenix (just in case!), Konqueror (on Linux), even Linx. I don't have access to a Mac or I'd run through it again on that! Sometimes I run through everything, sometimes just a select few (depends on the site).

    I don't however test using any non-visual browisng technology, and as the DDA looms (in the UK), I feel I should be doing that (plus it's a fantastic excuse to have headphones on @ work ).

    I noticed Jaws as mentioned by Redux in another thread, and was hoping that people could list other technologies (and or browsers) that peeps may be using (particularly the visually impaired), with links.

    If there is enough interest, I could compile it into one "sticky" post at the end.

    Cheers,

    H
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  2. #2
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    hey there H, for a comprehensive list i would suggest having a good look at www.techdis.ac.uk (and in particular the searchable database of assistive technologies, hosted under http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/ - browse by product, select screenreader under the software section...and voila')
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Groovy list there very slow server though!

    Any idea what the spread is like?

    Say screen readers - is there a dominant one that you know of that has a market hold along the lines of that of IE? Or is it a more spread/competitive marketplace?

    I'm going to post the top few from the list here, because the quest to get there on the link given was a little slow and laborious:

    http://www.anybrowser.com/siteviewer.htm - seemed interesting, although still not a "horses mouth" tool. I wanna close my eyes and browse...

    The following are actually pricey for just testing, but worth looking at perhaps?

    http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/product...ls.cfm?ID=1697

    http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/product...ls.cfm?ID=1408

    http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/product...ls.cfm?ID=1403

    http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/product...ls.cfm?ID=1352

    http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/product...ls.cfm?ID=1184

    Wow - I'm amazed at the price of some of those!

    On the "free" front, there is only really one "browser" offering to be found: http://www.niad.sussex.ac.uk/product...ls.cfm?ID=1408 .
    A quick trip to their website gives us Jaws, but I was unable to find the mentioned free browser...

    ...That can't be all there is out there! Any other links?
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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  5. #5
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Last updated 5 July 2001
    so to be taken with a pinch of salt, i fear...nevertheless, good link.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Not a bad link at all. Ploughing through them now and have dug up a few free ones which look like they may be worth considering...this little excercise is demonstrating to me that there seems to be a gap for a really popular free open-source device for this sort of thing...am I wrong?

    Anyway, most promising:

    Multiweb

    emacspeak * which may address question above..

    Simply Web 2000
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I think JAWS is the most popular screen reader and there's a free 40 minute trial version available to download.

    Window Eyes is another with a 30min demo. I read somewhere that Windows XP comes with a free screen reader (can't remember its name), I don't have XP so I don't know how good or bad it is.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard
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    TheOriginal H, thanks for those links, I just found another free one - readplease

  9. #9
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    major screen readers

    Hello, one of the more used screen readers is JAWS for windows, followed closely by window eyes, dolphin and a few others are hanging in, but for the most part if you program for these two major ones, you will cover most of the market.
    There are a few users using Lynx but most of these people are using a shell accoount or something of this, and text only is all they use.
    As a screen reader user, I still prefer to use the normal site that everyone else gets, and with good alt tags this is an easy thing to do.
    On the two major screen readers I listed above, you can download them, and they will run for like 45 minutes without having to buy them for testing purposes.
    Another resource you might try is on the www.freedomscientific.cosite there is the html challenge, and this is to show off how Jaws works with web pages, however it has coding examples all over it to give you ideas. Like there is the tables challenge, which shows how Jaws performs reading tables and such. If I can help with anything, I will give it my best shot too. I use Jaws for Windows myself and am totally blind.m

  10. #10
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    off topic, perhaps, but for a downloadable selection of browsers past and present, have a look at http://browsers.evolt.org/

    and yes, JAWS will run in demo mode for 40 minutes even without valid key (after which you need to restart your machine in order to run it for an additional 40 minutes). i've got a fully legit copy at work (through a special web developer discount at www.freedomscientific.com ), but i (sneakily ?) installed it on my laptop as well (where i only use it occasionally for quick tests).
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  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Thanks muchly Daz and Rottenray - very helpful posts.

    Looks like I may have to purchase a copy of Jaws then - although it seems criminal that blind/partially sighted users are having to pay extra to interface with their PC's/the web...

    one of the more used screen readers is JAWS for windows, followed closely by window eyes, dolphin
    That in particular is a tidbit that I find very useful, so thanks once again.


    Redux, how much did you have to pay for the developers version? I could be being thick, but I couldn't find details on their site.
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  12. #12
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    rottenray, thanks for your feedback, it's good to have input from someone who actually relies on a screenreader as I feel often we are only guessing problems you regularly encounter.

    Would you mind giving us a list of your major annoyances when surfing the net? Are there issues which we should be more aware of for screen reader users?

  13. #13
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheOriginalH
    Redux, how much did you have to pay for the developers version? I could be being thick, but I couldn't find details on their site.
    it was a limited special offer (i ordered it on the 20 august 2002) from http://www.sightandsound.co.uk/ in conjunction with TechDis for a cool £185, which my boss was more than happy to pay (and weirdly enough, the small print on the order page said that this product is to be used only by web developers for evaluation of their sites, and not by people who are actually visually impaired and want to use it as their everyday screenreader...a bit of discrimination perhaps ?)

    on a sidenote, when people ask me about "what resources should i read about accessibility", i usually tell them to read the following documents in this order:
    http://www.w3.org/1999/05/WCAG-REC-fact ,
    http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/Drafts/PWD-Use-Web/ ,
    http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/ , http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/full-checklist.html , http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-TECHS/

    as the actual http://www.w3.org/WAI/ may be a bit confusing at times...

    p.s.: rottenray, you access sitepoint with a screenreader ? i've tried it once, but the whole structure is so messed up (tab order in forms being only one of the issues) that i quickly switched my monitor back on and JAWS off...
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  14. #14
    Posts rarely lloydi's Avatar
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    You may find this article useful (possibly):

    http://www.accessify.com/articles/ac...dget_intro.asp
    Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way!
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  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast lhatkins's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheOriginalH
    Thanks muchly Daz and Rottenray - very helpful posts.

    Looks like I may have to purchase a copy of Jaws then - although it seems criminal that blind/partially sighted users are having to pay extra to interface with their PC's/the web...



    That in particular is a tidbit that I find very useful, so thanks once again.


    Redux, how much did you have to pay for the developers version? I could be being thick, but I couldn't find details on their site.
    Ya tell me about it! I'm stuck the Dolphin's supernova here, and that's not cheap £995 ! Which is fine when your at work cos you can get "Access to work" (government Scheme) to pay for it, but guess what happens if you want / need it at home? Yap you have to pay for it yourself, like we can find that kind of money. Rant over.

    Creative Labs used to have a text to speach reader, it came with their AWE32 sound cards, they seem to not ship this anymore, but I found it very usefull and again it was FREE!
    Regards

    ---
    Lee

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    I'm guessing you rely on it then lee?

    Hmm, I can't believe an area that is clearly so crucial is being overlooked by the open-source community.

    One good developer (or group of them) could be a friend to thousands it appears by coming up with the right product.

    Does anyone know of any technical reasons that this software is so expensive/overlooked by the OS community?
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  17. #17
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    maybe off topic, but...unless i'm mistaken, i've noticed that the majority of popular screen reader software is windows centric. the reason appears to be that, for once, microsoft got it right and implemented an accessibility framework right into its OS (see http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/de...actvaccess.asp ), something which linux/unix does not have...

    hmmm...just did a search for open source screen readers, and came up with what looks like an interesting list of search results... http://www.google.com/search?q=acces...tart=0&start=0
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast lhatkins's Avatar
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    Yes I do rely on a screen reader, I'm registered blind but I do have a bit of sight.

    The reason why this software is so expensive is that company's see it as a 'niche' market and bump the price up to match.

    I've seen a few open source readers, blinux for one, is a linux os for the blind, never used it, but I like the idea, build a complete OS for the blind instead of these bolt on's.

    Sorry for my cynical opinion, but I've been through this accessibility thing more times than I care to remember, and just can't understand why equipment for the disabled is so pricey, its not just software, I use a special CCTV to read printed text, price over £4,000, ya you read that right, I'm sure if you priced up the hardware components it would come to £400 tops, someone is making a killing from ripping off the disabled, and I'm sick of it.

    Sorry I went way off on one there, please forgive.

    They have installed Multiweb at work to test speech and accessibility of web sites, so at least this is a step forward.

    On this subject, is there a good tutorial for using Aural CSS code? I can't seem to find much on it. Also is there any web standard for the use of Access Keys, I like to use this feature but I feel that its used in so many different ways that it would just end up being confusing to the user, just wondered if there was a standard use for them.
    Last edited by lhatkins; Feb 12, 2003 at 05:37.
    Regards

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    Lee

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Originally posted by lhatkins
    Sorry I went way off on where there, please forgive.
    Please don't be, I was similarly riled when researching this, and I'm not directly affected (except from a dev viewpoint).

    I really think the open-source movement needs to turn some attention to this rather than rehashing existing projects or reinventing the wheel every few months.

    If I had the skills I'd be tempted to look at it myself, but I'm light years away
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