A screen reader is a software program that converts digital information into braille or speech for people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision so they can understand the content.
Table of Contents
- Gather resources
- Explain what are screen readers
- Explain who uses screen readers
- Explain why we should test with screen readers
- Explain which screen readers we should test with
- Explain what considerations we should be aware of for screen readers
The screen reader is the software interface that the person uses in order to receive the content or information contained within the computer operating system and its applications.
Types of Users
- People who are blind
- People who are DeafBlind
- People who have low vision
- People who have reading disabilities
- People who have cognitive or learning disabilities
- People who need eyes-free or hands-free environments
Screen readers generally output the content into two formats.
- Useful to people who are able to hear
- Useful to people who are DeafBlind
- Useful to people who are unable to hear
How Do Screen Readers Work?
Screen readers are designed to work with the operating system’s accessibility API which conveys information about the names, roles, values, and structure of the web content along with events.
Not all screen readers work well with different applications.
- Firefox and NVDA
- Chrome and NVDA
- Edge and NVDA
- Chrome and JAWS
- Edge and JAWS
- VoiceOver with Safari (iOS)
- TalkBack with Chrome (Android)
When designing and developing for screen readers, one should be able to take into consideration the following:
- The difference between the visual and structural order of the content presented to screen readers
- How WAI-ARIA role attributes and semantic elements work to create a page structure
- How to use screen reader lists of different objects to find important information on the screen
- How to naviage with a keyboard using a screen reader
- How to enter information in a form
Why Test with Screen Readers?
Real people need screen reader access.
The results will vary when testing with different browsers, screen readers, and operating systems. Automated tools are not capable of checking for all accessibility issues especially the following:
- Elements must receive focus (links, data input or buttons)
- The location of focus is visualized on web page for sighted keyboard users
- The functions of components (menu, sub-menu, accordion, tabpanel, carousel, etc…) can be browsed or performed correctly
- American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) / Screen readers
- Assistiv Labs
- Freedom Scientific / What is a Screen Reader?
- IONOS / Screen readers: enabling the blind to work on computers
- Scott Vinkle / Testing with Screen Readers
- Smashing Magazine / I Used The Web For A Day Using A Screen Reader
- WebAIM / Testing with Screen Readers: Questions and Answers
- Wikipedia /