Skip to Main Content
Accessibilty hero

Using a Screen Reader

As a web developer I've become more aware of the importance of accessibility especially since many countries and regions now have legal standards to meet. I installed a screen reader to try experiencing the internet in a new way.

I'm on Windows 10 and the screen reader I installed is NVDA and available for free on windows. I used the recommended settings from this Web AIM article on Evaluating Web Accessibility.

Immediately after starting the install process my computer was reading everything that my mouse moved over. This was disorienting at first, but after thinking about it I realized this is probably a good thing sinceĀ  most people installing a screen reader are using it to assist them navigating the web and their computer.

A Screen Reader is not a Browser

I always thought that a screen reader was a browser that you used that read out the web pages that you are visiting. It's not a browser, it's a seperate program that runs along side your browser and other applications.

A screen reader will read and announce everything that you do on your computer. For example if I mouse over icons in my app launcher it reads the title of each program for me. Or when installing a program it informs me that the program is installing and the various options available. It will read the entire legal agreement, buttons, checkbox all of it.

One disorienting aspect is that if I move my mouse the reading stops and then it starts again where the mouse starts again. There may be settings to adjust that but I haven't looked. It could also be that as a person who doesn't need assistance navigating the web I'm not using the screen reader in the best way.

The Video

I recorded this video without practicing. I planned a couple of tasks, for myself but did not have a script written out a head of time. In the beginning I ramble on a bit, but you can skip to the screen stuff by jumping to 2:30 into the video.

Future Tasks

I am thinking about recording a few more videos like this. In the video above I visited sites that, by law, are required to be accessible thus were relatively easy to navigate.

Next time I will ask friends/family for suggested sites to visit and navigate see how it is to try navigating a site that may not be accessible. I am also considering navigating without my glasses on since I won't be able to read at all and thus giving me a more authentic experience.

Related Posts