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Surprising Screen Reader User Survey Results

Surprising Screen Reader User Survey Results

WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), international web accessibility experts, conducted a survey over August and September 2019 in an effort to capture preferences of screen reader users. The survey was distributed worldwide and the second highest response, at 27%, came from Europe/UK participants.

Allergy information: If facts and figures trigger headaches and fatigue you may wish to hit the home button and see how else we can help you!

I’ll gently open with these statistics that will give you an idea of the participants involved in the survey:

71.3% exclusively rely on screen reader audio, further emphasising the need to consider these users in web design and development.

Surprisingly 12.4% of screenreader users don’t have a disability. Of the remaining 87.6% the majority are using this due to blindness, closely followed by low vision / visual impairment then deafness / difficulty hearing, after that was cognitive and motor difficulties.

15.8% reported multiple disabilities. 4.7% of respondents reported being both deaf and blind.

62.2% consider themselves advanced in terms of screen reader proficiency. Just 5.4% were beginners.

Most felt confident in using the internet. Compared to previous surveys this suggests screen reader users are becoming more accustomed to internet use.

Almost half of screenreader users were aged between 21 and 40.

 

Money Matters

Accessibility is about everybody with or without disabilities having the right to access the contents of the internet. Which begs the question, are screen reader solutions that charge a fee for use, excluding the less privileged who require assistive technology to benefit from online content?

Interestingly 37% downloaded their primary desktop / laptop screen reader free of charge from the internet while 22.7% bought it themselves. 13% were fortunate enough to have it provided by their employer.

The primary screen reader front runners were NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) and JAWS (Job Access With Speech). NVDA is a free, high quality screen reader, accessible to all https://www.nvaccess.org. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. JAWS isn’t free which could be why for the first time in 10 years it is not the most popular choice.

 

Accessibility First

Many of the results were a very helpful reference for me as a designer especially as accessibility is a priority here at focus. Here are a few findings that may open your eyes to the importance of designing and developing with accessibility in mind.

Top 3 browsers used most often by survey respondents were: Chrome making up for nearly half at 44.4%, Firefox over a quarter at 27.4% and internet explorer 11 at 10.9% (just beating safari at 9.8%). Compared with previous results this shows a sharp increase in chrome usage and a continued decline in the others.

Over 5 times more participants access their screen reader using a windows operating system than than iOS.

Nearly all respondents had JavaScript enabled.

If a text-only or screen reader version of a web site is available the majority of those asked said they would seldom use it.

Mobile and tablet were the most popular choice of device, very closely followed by laptop then desktop. Proving once again that mobile accessibility should not be an afterthought.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Tuesday October 01 2019 08:00 AM


Tags: accessibility screenreader survey webdesign webdevelopment


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Dyslexia friendly websites, are you thinking of the 10%?

Dyslexia friendly websites, are you thinking of the 10%?

Lately I have been thinking, if 10% (6.68 million) of the UK population are dyslexic why is making a website dyslexia friendly not as important as providing a site in different languages?

Dyslexia awareness has come a long way since I was a child, I remember being told “you’re just a bit stupid” when I struggled in school, as society’s awareness increases,  I can see that those days are far behind us. Dyslexia affects a persons ability to learn, read, and spell, but it’s not related to intelligence, and charities such as http://madebydyslexia.org/, backed by Richard Branson, have done a great job at promoting and changing public perception.

What’s the problem?
One of the most common traits of people with dyslexia is difficulty reading. Dyslexics read at an average of 50 - 150 words per a minute, the average reading speed of a non-dyslexic is 250 words per minute. There are interactive examples, such as Dan Britton’s typeface that let you experience what reading is like for someone with dyslexia. 

Whether you have an Ecommerce site or a wiki, you want everybody to find it easy to read the content you provide.

What can be done? A few simple steps:
 
Fonts
Research from Dyslexia Help has found that there are certain font types that have an impact on reading speeds for people with dyslexia. A font has been specially developed called ‘OpenDyslexic’ to give optimum reading speed. Although this is down to the preference of the user, some of the best fonts for an increase in reading speed are Helvetica, Courier, Arial, Verdana, CMU, Sans Serif, Monospaced, and Roman Font.

Colours
When it comes to colour, contrast is an important factor for a dyslexic. Generally, people with dyslexia find it difficult to read with high contrast levels and read faster when contrast levels are lower. The standard black text on a white background is not beneficial to people with dyslexia as it can appear too dazzling. Off-whites and pastel colours are generally a good alternative to white and offer a lower contrast.

Icons / Pictures
The phrase; ”a picture paints a thousand words” can most definitely be applied to a dyslexia friendly website. Pictures and icons are a dyslexic's best friend, if you can you use an icon in place of text then this can drastically reduce the time that a dyslexic user spends trying to work out what it is on the page.

Time
In school exams dyslexics are given 25% extra time. Therefore it’s good practice to apply the same rule to moving elements on your site, such as carousels, so that they have time to read and process the content.

These are just some small, simple changes - but there is far more that can be done, just check out the British Dyslexia Association for a full style guide.

Resources:
https://cdn.bdadyslexia.org.uk/documents/Advice/style-guide/Dyslexia_Style_Guide_2018-final-1.pdf?mtime=20190409173949

Dan Stephenson
Dan

Created on Thursday July 04 2019 12:05 PM


Tags: website accessibility disability content contentstrategy screenreader webdesign


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Screenreader Compatibility Tips

Screenreader Compatibility Tips

I watch as person after person pulls furiously on a door handle before giving it a shove, flying through the doorway much to their surprise and quickly patting down their disheveled attire.
(I'm allowed to laugh as it makes me feel better about doing it myself shortly before, only much less gracefully).
The problem here? The door handle was giving the wrong message. What looked like a handle was indeed a hinge.
My point is, the need for accessibility is everywhere and it is as important in web design as it is in architecture.

When designing for web we must consider various factors such as colour contrast and text size but many forget to consider screenreader users (Screen readers are audio interfaces that convert text into synthesised speech so that users can listen to the content). Luckily there are a few simple things that can be done in order to improve usability for screenreader users, and ultimately all web users...

Logical linearization
Unlike sighted web users who can scan a web page and pull out at random what they consider to be the important information. Screen reader users tend to listen to a page from start to finish, top to bottom, left to right. So it is best to have the important parts towards the top of the page.

Descriptive page title
The first thing a screen reader user hears is the page title. It is imperative that this gives users a clear idea of what to expect from that page. Obviously this benefits everyone as anyone can use the page title to orientate themselves and confirm they are where they want to be on the website.

Descriptive headings
One of the most important usability features for screen reader users is on-page headings. The page structure can then be more easily understood. Although text on the page may appear to be a heading for sighted users, screen readers read through the HTML code so it must be labelled as a heading within that. The screen reader will then announce it as such.

Descriptive link text
Screen reader users can call up a list of on-page links and browse a web page that way. They simply activate links of interest to them. Therefore non-descriptive link text like ‘click here’ is meaningless out of context so avoid it like the plague!

Lists
Using lists within the HTML code is super useful as screen readers announce the number of items in each list before reading them out. This way screenreader users have a better idea of what to expect when hearing a list of items, for example site navigation.
A bit like the way an answer machine tells you how many messages you have received rather than just reeling them off one after the other. You feel more prepared for what you're about to listen to. The use of lists (using the <li> tag) is a behind-the-scenes change to the code that shouldn't really affect what the website looks like.


The great thing about these screenreader friendly tips is that each and every one of them will improve overall user experience.
We as humans like to know what to expect and are comfortable with what feels familiar. It's always good to bear this in mind when designing for web and there is no reason this should jeopardise your creativity. Maybe give the web equivalent of dodgy door handles a miss though, just a thought!

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Wednesday August 26 2015 03:06 PM


Tags: website technology web-development accessibility communication usability screenreader


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