Don’t trust screen readers – learn why
“I use a screen reader software to ensure that my website is accessible.” This is a common statement that we hear when talking to businesses regarding website accessibility. The only problem with this common misconception is that a ‘screen reader check” only confirms that your site is accessible to users that are blind. You must also consider users with low vision, visual perceptual conditions, cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, age related impairments, mobility impairments and those that are deaf or hard of hearing. These individuals can experience barriers to website access meaning your site is still not inaccessible to some.
Additionally, users without any vision issues could never read white text on a white background but a screen reader would discover and read the text. In this case, sight-impaired users could hear what’s written but non-vision impaired users would miss it.
How can I ensure that my website is accessible to a wide range of users with disabilities?
It is critical that multiple evaluation tools are used to test web accessibility. W3C has developed a set of guidelines on what an accessible website should look like for all disabled users. In the Winn-Dixie ruling they are required to use these guidelines to ensure accessibility. Accessible websites need to be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Do you know how to test for that?
Remember, screen readers can only read text. Although your site could be accessible to screen reader users, it may not be accessible to everyone else!
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