4 things you thought you knew about screen readers!

This is my proposal for a Pecha Kucha session at the MoodleMoot Dublin 2012. It barely scratches the surface but should be a good start for people who care about accessibility.

If you only have time to read one post today, skip this one and nothing read this great post explaining screen readers in seven steps.

Despite the “Use screen reader” option in the profile, screen reader users face lots of barriers when accessing Moodle. Some of this is because of poor choices by Moodle designers and some because of lack of knowledge on the part of Moodle admins and course creators. This presentation will give a quick overview of the four most common misconceptions about screen readers held by people who think they create accessible interfaces. They were all discovered on a recent accessibility review of our Moodle implementation and they all came as a surprise to me. This forced me to reevaluate my stance on accessibility and inspired me to learn how to use a screen readers. There are many principles to accessibility people don’t know but these 4 are ones that most people think they do know and are wrong about!

  1. Every image must have an ALT tag so that the screen reader user knows that there’s an image and what it is. (Answer)
  2. As long as everything can be read out loud, the site is accessible. (Answer and another Answer)
  3. All links must have a title tag so that the screen reader user knows what it’s pointing to. (Answer)
  4. Screen readers are too hard to use to be worthwhile learning unless you’re a specialist. (Answer)

Applying the right practices here will not only make Moodle and the web more accessible but it will simply make for better pages in general.

When I first learned about some of these things, I thought, how come nobody knows about this. Somebody should write a web page describing all of this. But then I found out the web is full of the right information. It’s just that the information is not going to the right people. For my money this is one of the best resources for simple accessibility practices that are great for everybody but indispensable for screen reader users.