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the good life in a digital age

trying out the screen-reader experience

I’m not a screenreader expert and if you are wondering how your site works in screenreaders it is worth getting it tested properly by experts. But if you just want to get a flavour of what it is like to use a screenreader or how screenreaders cope with particular types of content…then these tools might be helpful.

Fangs Screen Reader Emulator :: Add-ons for Firefox. This Firefox add-on will produce a (text) version of your page to give you an idea of how a screenreader might read it. It’s just an idea as it depends on the screenreader and it doesn’t help you understand how the page might sound.

If you want to experience the actual audio experience:

NVDA is a free and open source screen reader for Windows. Apparently works best with Firefox. I find it useful for quickly pointing the cursor at a bit of the page and listening to how that is read out. If you want to get a real sense of the page might be navigated then you’ll need to learn some of the commands. And you’ll probably want to slow it down to start with (go to preferences > voice controls)

JAWs is a widely used screenreader but definitely not free. You can however download a free trial. As for NVDA, you’ll need to learn some commands.

All the screenreaders are easier to use if you tend to use the keyboard more than the mouse. You’ll already be in the habit of memorising all those key combinations.

It is important to remember that a screenreader’s experience of your page will vary depending on how many of the screenreader’s functions that user knows and how they have their preferences set. The setting that controls how much punctuation is read makes a big difference but there are legitimate reasons for having it set to read all punctuation (which probably makes it sound worse and harder to process).

Written by Karen

March 1st, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Posted in accessibility