Sunday, November 29, 2015

Making the leap to screen-reading software is a tough step for people losing their vision.

I am one of those people.

My job for the last few years has been to train people in screen-magnification software, the Windows environment, and the Office Suite. Very gratifying to see people gain confidence in their abilities.

This past year it's been my good fortune to learn to use JAWs from Freedom Scientific and train two students.  On any given day, teaching the Windows platform can be very humbling because of computer glitches, anomalies, and student challenges.

One nice discovery is that JAWs is more manageable than I once thought.

Teaching screen-reading software with the Internet will be the big test because it will require patience on the student's part. Why? 1) It's all audio, and 2) the software reads the structure and content in a linear manner. Screen-reading software can drive you mad with too much information.

To approach a website, the user arrows down through every bloody link, header, form, text, and table to evaluate the quickest way to the desired content or field. To just blunder your way through could take even longer. (Pass the Valium.)

Today I'm thankful that smart people are developing affordable software such as NVDA. This week I will see if this open-source option handles busy sites as well as JAWs. We use news sites, Orbitz, Google Maps, job posting sites, and Linkedin to prepare our students for school and career.

I'm thankful that web accessibility is gaining more attention because it will benefit EVERYONE. We've got such a long, long way to go in social media and corporate career sites.

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