[thelist] Are you designing with CSS and web standards?

Ian Anderson ian at zstudio.co.uk
Wed Mar 16 16:19:05 CST 2005

Ivo P wrote:

>I've found that a lot of the complexity of tables, even for many
>horrid table based layouts, is handled quite well by screen readers
>and accessibility tools rather than because of careful table designs.
>In my own testing I found that users that know their way around with a
>screen reader could truly harness their potential to navigate even the
>most difficult sites. A compliment really towards the accessibility
>tool rather than the site design.
I agree with you completely

>I found novice screen reader users, such as students starting out with
>computers, find navigating tables challenging until with repeated use
>(and a lot of frustration) they can configure screen readers in a
>manner they can successfully use them. Even after they reached this
>comfort zone with the accessibility tool it was apparent that a large
>part of the site fell outside of their experience because it fell
>beyond this developed comfort zone.
That's really interesting. I certainly accept that there is a wide 
spectrum when it comes to the users of assistive technology, just as 
there is considering users of word processors or any other software 

I'm a little surprised that you identify tables in this context though. 
In my experience, things like navigating data tables were problematic 
for our users. These shortcuts are toward the more obscure end of the 
spectrum; in JAWS they need to use Ctrl+Alt+Numpad 5 for read headers 
for current cell, and Ctrl+Alt+arrow keys to read the headers as you 
move through a table, for example. A lot of JAWS users don't know these 
and have terrible trouble with data tables even when they are marked up 
to the fullest extent possible.

Layout tables - no issues.

What screen readers were these novices using?



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