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Lucy Greco

  Accessibility in Education

09/16/2014

Feeling Like a Beginner Again: Using Web 2.0 Apps, Week Three

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Week three with Web 2.0 gets trickier and slightly frustrating for web accessibility expert Lucy Greco. Read the post to find how she navigates Web 2.0 interfaces using a screen reader. 

Working on Web 2.0 Platforms

Image: There are plenty of times where I’m really not sure what’s going on or how to accomplish tasks on my computer using Web 2.0 apps.

As the title of this post says, in some ways I definitely feel like a beginner again. I can honestly say that I haven’t had one session with the computer that went smoothly or easily. Some of it pertains to screen reader issues and some others just not knowing what to do. I’m very thankful, however, that every application I use has easy to use keyboard command lists.

I realized while reading over my last two posts, Beginning with Web 2.0 Experiment and Working with Web 2.0 Apps, that I neglected to tell you what choices I have made in the process of setting up this project. I will be doing all my work within the Firefox browser as overall, I found it to be the most responsive and easy to use. Most of all I appreciate how easy it is to spell check within Firefox using a screen reader. I am not very familiar with Google Chrome and I felt that jumping into a new browser now would be too much more to add to this process of experimenting with Web 2.0 apps. Also, the work Marco Zehe has been doing at Mozilla is definitely worth committing time to using.

Now for a brief discussion on some of the problems I am still facing. Let me begin with Gmail. When I use JAWS, I find that navigating the inbox works fairly well. Occasionally I find that I must use the J and K keys to navigate messages and that other times the arrow keys work just as well. Opening a message has only been about 85% reliable using both screen readers. At times, I will hit Enter to open a message and nothing happens. As I arrow through the message list, NVDA does tell me that the messages are opened or closed but I’m still not sure what that really means. Once I have opened the message with JAWS I turn on the virtual cursor to read the messages. I have found no other way with JAWS to get to the body of the messages.

I do not need to change to the equivalent of virtual mode within NVDA as frequently because it seems to have a much better understanding of when I need to navigate with keyboard shortcuts or when I just want to read the text. I believe NVDA is detecting the application mode much more reliably than JAWS is.

One of the problems I have had with NVDA occurs during the process of composing a message. My practice is to type the message up as quickly as I can and then go back to the beginning and read it slowly to look for spelling mistakes or any other edits. Consistently I have found that when I am replying to a message there seems to be a few silent lines within what is being called the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) frame. I am not able to read within that frame.

On the other hand, the micro-blogging platform Twitter has been much simpler to navigate. The only problems I have had with it in the last two days are when I forget to use the tab key to move to the Tweet button and just try hitting enter when sending a tweet. Overall Twitter gets easier to use. There are still some issues that need to be resolved but the developers have assured me that they’re on it. The Twitter accessibility developer has been extraordinarily supportive and responds to all my tweets with comments on the interface.

Tomorrow I go back to work after a three-day weekend. If I make it through till Friday without using Outlook or basic HTML I think I have a chance at succeeding at this challenge. In the meantime, the 4-inch stack of Braille paper I’m carrying around with me will get worn and tattered. Oh yes, did I forget to mention that I Brailed all the keyboard shortcuts I thought I would need for this experiment?! I could’ve probably halved this if I didn’t also include the Mac commands. But I do expect to try this on the Mac over the coming days. Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming!

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Related Resources

Blog: An Experiment with Web 2.0 Apps | Read Lucy Greco's Blog.

Publication: Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities | Download PDF.

Event: 15th World Wireless Congress | View Event Details.