Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Do I Communicate With The Internet?

How do I communicate with the Internet?

I am asked this question nearly daily, and as long as it helps to educate mainstream persons, I will never tire of answering it.

I communicate with the Internet through software known as screen readers and self-voicing browsers. These pieces of software, also known as access technology, enable me to hear what is on the screen and, for the most part, I can hear what a sighted person sees but there are some drawbacks.

Firstly, screen readers and self-voicing browsers are unable to decipher images, graphics, and icons. The only way that they can decipher them is if they are appropriately tagged with textual equivalents.

Secondly, screen readers and self-voicing browsers are only able to read PDF content after they have been properly tagged by content developers. In addition, a blind or visually-impaired person needs to use the right version of screen reader. Many of the earlier versions are unable to communicate with PDF content, so it is important to have the latter versions at hand.

Thirdly, screen readers and self-voicing browsers can only work for us if websites are accessible and usable.

Unfortunately, over 97% of websites are still inaccessible to both sighted and blind persons alike. In a future blog, I will talk about some of the barriers that presently face me on the Internet as a blind person and will share what I am doing to raise awareness. In the meantime, I have some urls for you to visit. These websites will enable you to learn all about screen readers and much more.

Visit: http://www.freedomscientific.com and http://www.dolphincomputeraccess.com.

Just to give you a sneak preview: Screen readers and self-voicing browsers can read as follows: Entire screens, by paragraph, by sentence, by word, by letter. They can spell entire words, perform phonetic spelling, announce punctuations, read and ignore punctuations, plus much more. However, they often have difficulty with handling pop-up screens and pull-down menus, and they are unable to communicate with CAPTCHAs because CAPTCHAS require users to enter security codes based on proffered images.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your accessibility and special-needs business consultant wishing you a terrific day and reminding you to go out there and tell others all about how blind and visually-impaired persons use screen readers and self-voicing browsers to communicate with the Internet plus more.

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