I have no objection to altering web pages in ways that screen-readers can read them and that don't degrade the page for sighted users. But making changes that degrade the page for sighted users isn't in the interest of blind people, I would argue. It doesn't help the image of blind people if sighted people learn that a web page has been altered to make it less attractive or usable to them. Blind people can and should get tutorials or some sort of instruction on using computers including the Internet. If they don't know about such instruction, then more efforts to inform the general public should be made.
Where do you draw the line? A small modification here and there that may make a site less intuitave for a sighted user and from there, how do you deal with this argument or problem?
Screen-readers render web sites in the following manner:
The links a sighted person sees running down the left side of the page, the blind person seess as a block at the top. Below that, is the main text a sighted person sees running ddown the right side of the screen, the blind person sees as a block at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, for various reasons, large numbers of blind people don't learn how to navigate pages well on the Internet. Leaving aside the reasons for this in this message, if someone argued that the links that run down the left side of web pages should be removed, would you favor that? As I said, where do you draw the line? Removing those links would mean that a blind person could go to a page with an article and just start reading the article without knowing how to move to it. At present, there are many ways a blind person can efficiently find an article in the majority of cases. the person can try moving by heading because the article often begins with a heading. Screen-readers, in addition to move by heading commands, also have a command that skips blocks of links and that command, if executed once or twice, often puts the person at or close to the start of the article. If a blind person doesn't know these sorts of things, the Internet will be very cumbersome to use. But you can't change the Internet in ways like removing the links that run down the left sides of web pages. Blind people need to learn how to do these things.
I'm not advocating technical bias. I'm advocating education. If you make small changes such as writing the word asterisk instead of star, that may be innocuous. But I suspect that the reason you originally used * is because sighted people immediately see the symbol and, whether they are sure what an asterisk is or not, they know what a * is or if they have any doubts, they can find it on their keyboards. If you try to do too much accomodation that degrades web pages for them, it may cause resentment among sighted people and that isn't good for blind people in the long run. I firmly don't believe in degrading things for sighted users. If accomodations can be made that don't cause degredation, that's fine, as in my previous message, where I discussed using black on black contrast. There are all sorts of accomodations that can be made that don't degrade the page for sighted users.
Also, if it is not a degredation to write something like asterisk that's fine, too. But I'm saying that in accomodating blind users, it is important not to degrade the page for sighted users. You may not have any such accomodations in mind, but I'm presenting my position in case it helps you decide which accomodations are reasonable and which not and when to ask about accomodations that wouldn't degrade a page but would still benefit blind people.
----- Original Message -----
I disagree. My grandmother went deaf when she got into her seventies. I saw how it isolated her. She couldn’t get phone calls from her sons who lived out of state. People would get frustrated with her. Or, she would see how frustrated they were getting and then get frustrated herself because she was doing the best she could.
Proper communication is a fundamental human right essential to everyone’s well-being, in my opinion. But, I’m a loud mouth.
Changing sidewalks for wheel chair access made it easier for the blind, or so I am told. I know it made it easier for the elderly who had to use walkers. Someone who needs a walker because of a balance issue, not a strength issue, is more likely to fall at a curb. So the strength can fade away from unwillingness to walk and fear of being tripped up on curbs. Thus ramps have helped more than the wheel-chair bound.
As for my grandmother, I set her up with a phone that did email. The sons could send her email and she could hear from them, even if she never did figure out how to respond (this was the middle of the 1990s). That meant a lot to her.
These new access standards also address limited cognitive abilities, cultural differences, and alternate languages. As a former teacher, I am aware of cultural bias in testing. Cultural bias exists in web pages too, like when they assume that you know what wild cards are in a search engine and which one does which function. That’s technical bias.
People omit things to make them brief (unlike my letter here) or to make themselves elite (because you have to be in the know to understand). Requiring brevity by omitting things is not the same as including it and allowing people to skip what they want. A sighted person just skips over double wording as standard operating procedure. We see it so often. If you have to go back and decode something, that takes longer.
----- Original Message -----
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Gene
But I don't believe in altering standard text for screen-readers on a site for the general public. Maybe, on a site intended only or almost exclusively for blind people. I haven't given that any thought. But when we read books, if a chapter title is in all capitals, we either learn how to deal with it if it causes problems, or we don't. This sort of thing goes far beyond the requirements of accessibility. Screen-reader users have a responsibility to know something about the program they are using. If all caps did cause me a problem, I would look at the line and spell what isn't being pronounced correctly. You don't build a street so that people who don't know how to drive can drive on it. You build a street for licensed drivers. You shouldn't alter text under normal conditions because some blind people may not know how to use their screen-readers.