Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites: Observing Users Who Work With Screen Readers

Reprinted and expanded version of an article by Mary Frances Theofanos from the US National Cancer Institute and usability consultant Janice Redish, first published in ACM’s Interactions November-December 2003 issue:

Between November 2002 and February 2003, we observed and listened to 16 blind users as they worked with Web sites using assistive devices that read the screen to them (screen readers). Participants used the screen reader that they work with regularly: 13 used JAWS and three used Window-Eyes

[...] Our focus has been understanding how blind users work with Web sites and what that means for designers and developers. Our focus therefore is users rather than specific Web sites. In the following sections we describe insights gained from our observations and we present guidelines that can help designers and developers both meet the letter of the law and actually make Web sites usable to people who listen to screen readers.

Available as PDF (903 Kb) - or run it through Adobe’s online PDF to HTML conversion tool.

Thanks to Steven Faulkner at NILS for the heads-up.

Filed under: Accessibility
Posted by Patrick H. Lauke on Monday, November 1, 2004

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