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ajax and blind users

 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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This article talks about Ajax and accessiblity for blind users. Does anyone have views on how Ajax will affect accessiblity?

There is the potential to have any screen element change dynamically at runtime without the user knowing where to look. On a non-Ajax website, a blind user listens as the screen reader starts from the beginning of each page as it loads. With Ajax, there would have to be some sort of mechanism for informing the user to tell the screen tool to start over. Maybe a hidden textual clue?
 
Eric Pascarello
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The 508 stuff can be a problem, I think the vendors of screen readers need to look more into the W3C standards!

But this may help develoers see the light: http://sourceforge.net/projects/fangs/

Eric
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Eric,
Thanks for answering my real question even though I didn't mention 508 explictly. [For those who don't know Section 508 is a US federal law requiring accessibility to disabled users on all government applications.]

re: fang - Cool! Cool! Cool!

I'll have to try Fangs at work next week. It's frustrating trying to test through Jaws as I don't have the patience to listen to my screens. That and the license is so expensive it isn't on all our desks. This looks really promising.
 
Stephen Cote
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Fangs is a nice idea, but the trouble with using it to develop accessible Web applications is that you have to place a certain level of trust in Fangs to reproduce exactly what other software, such as JAWS, would produce for the accessibility-minded user. I used Fangs for about five minutes, four of which were "neat, nice, way-cool", and the last minute was, "uh, wait, this isn't exactly what JAWS is producing".

I don't think AJAX is going to affect blind users any more or less than before. If a Web application is developed with accessibility in mind, then the end result of any AJAX tranaction would include the requisite markup to be accessible, or otherwise it wouldn't.

Either the developers and/or business is accessiblility-minded, or it's not, and that will be reflected in the product, regardless of how that product is delivered, be it brick-and mortal, HTTP, Javascript + XML + HTTP (AJAX), or otherwise.
 
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