SPSS (if it's the same SPSS I know of, and it probably is), was originally
called the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, is ancient, and has
long since come into common use for number crunching in many disciplines.
That being said, SPSS was developed long before accessibility was on
virtually anyone's radar.
I was, for a very long time, under the
grossly mistaken impression that screen readers had been developed such
that they could make a decent attempt to read virtually anything that might
pop up on a screen. I was recently disabused of that notion when
working with a client who was expected to be able to use Interaction
Desktop by Interaction Intelligence and a number of custom screen-based,
but not web-based, programs developed for the client company. It
became abundantly clear instantly that JAWS (in this case, but it could
have been any screen reader, this isn't JAWS bashing) was utterly incapable
of interpreting the first thing that was on the screen because the
underlying scripting for these applications did not exist. We take
for granted the way screen readers do function with common office suites
and web browsers because an untold number of hours have been dedicated to
creating the scripting that ships with them to handle these programs.
There is no way that any company can develop scripts "for everything"
so the focus will logically be on the things that can benefit the most
people in the most settings. SPSS is absolutely a niche market, writ
large. In the context of the population at large, blind or not, very,
very few people will ever touch SPSS. That would not be a logical
place to dedicate a lot of resources to as a result.
The above being
said, after my experience with the client I made reference to, I was able
to determine that there are several sites that had blind individuals using
the software in question and that a significant scripting base was in place
already and I believe it was actually done by Freedom Scientific.
What I do not understand is why companies like Freedom Scientific,
when they're doing this work, do not have some contractual language in
place that allows them to add said scripts to a central repository that
they would maintain. It is insane to keep reinventing the wheel, and
that's exactly what happens when it comes to relatively little used
commercial software when scripts have to be created, again and again, for
each blind user at each site. I was shocked that Freedom Scientific
could not tell me whether any scripts existed or whether JAWS was known to
have been used over Interaction Desktop. Screen readers themselves
are niche markets in the grand scheme of things and they would be boosting
their respective reputations and really serving an important function of
increasing accessibility for niche products if they set themselves up as
centralized script repositories, with the proviso that they are not
actively maintaining said scripts, just so a baseline would exist to work
with when needed.
You can't convince me that SPSS hasn't been
scripted, probably hundreds of times now, but where, for what screen reader
or screen readers, who knows?
a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If
you’re alive, it isn’t.