A while back, I asked for help with making
my documentation equal access to NVDA users. James Austin And
Cearbhall O’Meadhra both answered my call and have been very
patient in helping me.
Microsoft help files end in a CHM
extension. Just a refresher: this format generates a window
with the following buttons along the top: Hide, Back, Forward,
Home, Print, and Options. Below the button bar, there is a
left-hand side that contains three tabs: Content, Search, and
Favorites. In the Contents tab, there is an organizational
tree that allows you to look at the page names and navigate
directly to the page you want. On the right hand side, there
is the content window. It displays the header of the page and
any navigation buttons relating to the page, such as Previous,
Top, and Next. Below the header is the content for the page.
On the first run through, the content
window was blank. I contacted my software’s maker and they had
me make some changes. I’m not using Word, but just as Word can
save as a single document or PDF or web page, this software
can save as an entire web site, a CHM help file, or a PDF. I
had applied something they call a skin to give the entire set
of pages the same look and feel as the software it is
supporting. These guys told me to remove the skin. According
to them, all that would remain is Microsoft’s CHM frame and my
pages within it.
On the second run through, the content
window was there, but the content header (with the buttons
that appear next to it) was not visible to NVDA. This told me
that most of the problem was in the skin. I contacted the
software maker since the skin was from one of their templates.
I’m quoting their response: The most likely cause there is a non-scrolling
header, where the topic header stays in the same place and
the topic content scrolls in a box below it. If the screen
reader is old/poorly programmed/dumb then it is quite
possible that it wouldn't be able to handle that. End quote.
Well, on behalf of
everyone here, I was offended. I may not yet have access to
NVDA but I know everyone here works hard to help it be a
really good product. I’ve gone back to my files and, as a
sighted user, I can’t see any header that stays in the same
place. I will be contacting them about that and pushing them
to nail down this problem and also to help me get a skin
that doesn’t make the files invisible to screen readers.
However, I also have to
be respectful and ask if anyone knows of a CHM file that is
completely readable to NVDA? Is any of this problem an issue
with the NVDA software? Or, is it a known problem with CHM
that users of other screen readers also experience?
Thank you for your