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Web Designers Alternative for JAWS®

Reply with quote I have a post on Maccessibility about this petition. I'm quite negative about the idea.

--Kynn
Reply with quote
Da Warriah wrote:
I'm not positive about this, but it might be that here in Canada, JAWS might fall under the disability medical coverage. I have a legally blind friend (she can still see some) that gets 20" monitors and ZOOMtext software at discounted prices - it falls under some sort of Canadian disability coverage, which is a very good idea. JAWS might be the same, though I'd have to check. However, I agree that it is a ridiculous amount to pay in order to browse the internet like any other user. Shouldn't that fall under Section 508?


That's not what Section 508 does in the states. It relates to purchasing of software by federal agencies. It doesn't fund the purchase of software or hardware for people with disabilities.

--Kynn
Reply with quote Kynn -

Kynn - wow, arrogant, self-centered, and asinine? You're not pulling your punches, are you?

Sorry, but you're dead wrong. You make it sound like a 'put up or shut up' proposition, but I'm guessing you've never had to try talking management into spending thousands of dollars on the latest Adobe and Macromedia treats, hundreds of dollars on more memory, and then, oh yeah, an extra grand because we have to hit F5 a few times to make sure 0.x% of our users see the page properly.

I completely agree that it's highway robbery to all users, but it's "asking blind users to subsidize the use of assistive technologies by sighted users."? Come on Kynn, it's software - it's not a limited resource.

The *only reason*, and I emphasize because you must understand this if nothing else, but the ONLY reason the developers who have signed this petition are interested are because they have a social conscience and a feeling of obligation toward all users of their sites. Look at the last paragraph of <a href="http://www.mezzoblue.com/cgi-bin/mt/mezzo/archives/000234.asp#c001375">this comment</a>, for example.

The alternative is NOT to grudgingly shell out the thousand, as you seem to suggest; the alternative is to ignore the users of the software, throw out a text-only version of our site (which we all know isn't accessible either), or just put up a big sign saying 'Sorry blind users, but we can't afford you.' The users are the casualties in the war, and how much sense does that make?

These are the attitudes that we the developers are trying to combat, and faulting us for actually caring is a bad move.
Reply with quote
Dave S. wrote:
Kynn -
Kynn - wow, arrogant, self-centered, and asinine? You're not pulling your punches, are you?


I rarely do.

Quote:
Sorry, but you're dead wrong. You make it sound like a 'put up or shut up' proposition, but I'm guessing you've never had to try talking management into spending thousands of dollars on the latest Adobe and Macromedia treats, hundreds of dollars on more memory, and then, oh yeah, an extra grand because we have to hit F5 a few times to make sure 0.x% of our users see the page properly.


Why do you assume that?

I've been working in Web development in a huge variety of environments since 1994. I certainly know what's going on here, but I believe that developer-centric thought is a larger problem than the price of screen readers.

Quote:
I completely agree that it's highway robbery to all users, but it's "asking blind users to subsidize the use of assistive technologies by sighted users."? Come on Kynn, it's software - it's not a limited resource.


Yes, yes, and software wants to be free.

Quote:
The *only reason*, and I emphasize because you must understand this if nothing else, but the ONLY reason the developers who have signed this petition are interested are because they have a social conscience and a feeling of obligation toward all users of their sites.


And they are misguided and wrong, because this petition does nothing at all. I would much rather have their consciences directed toward reasonable goals which may accomplish something -- there is little chance that Freedom Scientific will grant them what they demand! -- which is based less on their own comfort and more on an understanding of the issues related to assistive technology.

Quote:
The alternative is NOT to grudgingly shell out the thousand, as you seem to suggest; the alternative is to ignore the users of the software, throw out a text-only version of our site (which we all know isn't accessible either), or just put up a big sign saying 'Sorry blind users, but we can't afford you.' The users are the casualties in the war, and how much sense does that make?


This is black-and-white thinking.

Anyone with as much of a conscience as you say, who then says "well, because one software vendor did not give me free software, I'm going to SCREW THE BLIND," does not truly have a conscience.

As has been pointed out by myself and others, the value of JAWS is actually quite limited. Unskilled users can't really use it effectively, even for minor testing. Web developers with a conscience are probably better off simply using a cheaper or free alternative, and asking (or paying) a JAWS user to test their site.

Most Web developers do not have the luxury of turning off their monitors for a week (let alone a month) in order to master JAWS. Why pretend as if they need this software? They don't.

Quote:
These are the attitudes that we the developers are trying to combat, and faulting us for actually caring is a bad move.


Straw man. I'm faulting "you" for demanding something which is of little use to you, which isn't yours to demand, and which you haven't articulated a good reason as to why you need it.

That's why this petition is a terrible idea.

--Kynn
Reply with quote
Quote:
there is little chance that Freedom Scientific will grant them what they demand!


Obviously. FS is seemingly the sort of company that doesn't cater to anyone. Perhaps a list of signatures will be ignored; perhaps it will cause them to think about it. Either way, the effort you and I are exerting in arguing each other is far more than the effort it took to spend 10 seconds signing the petition. If we want to talk about wasted effort, look no further.

Quote:
I would much rather have their consciences directed toward reasonable goals which may accomplish something


So suggest something. What is a bulletproof way for a developer to make sure their site is accessible to a screen reader without ever having used one? I and the rest of the development community are all ears.

We don't know how to develop for screen readers. How do we change this? Quit arguing me and start giving me useful information.
Reply with quote
Dave S. wrote:
Either way, the effort you and I are exerting in arguing each other is far more than the effort it took to spend 10 seconds signing the petition.


It takes 10 seconds to puff and exclaim how web designers have more of a right to get a low-cost copy of JAWS than a real user with disabilities, yet it takes years to undo that discriminatory damage. Web designers already have a bad reputation when it comes to basic social rights, why insist on making the situation worse?

Dave S. wrote:
What is a bulletproof way for a developer to make sure their site is accessible to a screen reader without ever having used one?


Get a blind person who already has JAWS to do some testing for you. As pointed out previously, its already going to take you months before you can be using JAWS completely - who are you going to charge for that? And is everyone who is signing your petition going to spend that time actually learning how to use the tool properly?

There is a danger that you'll be authoring browser-dependant features - much like the mess we are all trying to get out of. Making a website accessible to JAWS is commendable, but short-sighted. Should you author specific markup for a specific browser, or don't browser manfacturers have the obligation to make their goods support existing and documented standards?

Pandering to a specific browser only results in non-standard websites - as evidenced by the number of Internet Explorer only websites. Browser dependance is folly. If JAWS cannot handle a website that is authored as per web standards (with well formed and well structured markup) and meets all the necessary accessibility checkpoints - surely its their obligation to correct those deficiencies?

Is there a reason that WCAG1.0 or WCAG2.0 cannot be used as a guide? Considering WCAG2.0 is open for public feedback right now, it seems a good time to iron out all the problems that make you feel compelled to go down the browser dependance route.

Dave S. wrote:
We don't know how to develop for screen readers.


That indeed is a good thing. Designing for the World Wide Web is a far better use of resources.
Reply with quote From Kynn's site:

Kynn wrote:
Via Accessify (who supports this), someone wants to petition the makers of JAWS so they can get cheaper copies:


and

Kynn wrote:
Such a move surely smacks of pure greed and self-centeredness. These people, who have apparently never been customers of Freedom Scientific, are now expecting product for free? Why would Freedom Scientific want to do this?


For the record, I see both sides of the argument. I agree with the notion that web developers asking for cheaper copies is a bit 'me, me, me' and that the people who would really benefit from a reduced rate are the actual blind users who generally find it much more difficult to raise such funds given that statistically they are less likely to be in gainful employment. I think that it is overpriced for *everybody*!

Realistically, I think FS won't change their pricing policy for web developers if they aren't willing to do so for the blind comunity. However, if a petition at least alerts them to the presence of a large community who would like to be able to use their software for testing purposes and who begrudge paying full price, is that a bad thing?

The price *does* put people off. However, there are alternatives:

* Connect Outloud demo
* Jaws demo

Both of these allow the developer to do some testing, but the time-out nags are totally irritating.

It's true that developers will *never* learn how to use the screen reader the same way that a blind user will (e.g. moving virtual cursor around, navigating through table data), but even knowing the basics would be a start.

I guess my reason for highlighting the petition was because of the proportion of time spent by developers [compared to blind users] using a screen reader is far lower, and therefore I feel that there should be some kind of pricing mechanism to allow for this. Otherwise it's a bit like buying the full Office suite and then only using 10% of MS Word ... oh hang on a minute, that's what *most* people do, heh Wink

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Reply with quote
lloydi wrote:
I think that it is overpriced for *everybody*!


I think thats something we can all agree on.

illoydi wrote:
Realistically, I think FS won't change their pricing policy for web developers if they aren't willing to do so for the blind comunity. However, if a petition at least alerts them to the presence of a large community who would like to be able to use their software for testing purposes and who begrudge paying full price, is that a bad thing?


Why not do it the free market way and vote with your wallets. Get a full copy of something like IBM's Homepage Reader (circa 70 US dollars) - a tenth of the price and it must surely offer much more than a tenth of the functionality of JAWS - so there's value for money there. Then make it a firm position that the reason IBM's product was chosen was because JAWS is far too expensive for what you require.

Is there something in JAWS that is so fundamantally crucial that is not also a part of IBM's Homepage Reader?
Reply with quote
Quote:
For starters, this is stupid Internet tricks whereby the Web developers
imagine themselves as the center of the universe, and if by force of numbers --
via signing a petition online! -- they can force a for-profit company to
bend to their will.


Hmmm... Tricky one this. I seem to remember that the WaSP has done an OK job of convincing several for-profit organisations of the benefits of supporting standards.

A for-profit company may see benefits of offering a cut price version.
I would. And a petition may be a good gauge of a potential market.

Or, should we be pushing the developers of tools for developers such as Dreamweaver to be doing the leg work. Companies like Macromedia are in a much better position and bank balance to forge affiliations with the makers of JAWS.
Reply with quote The petition asks for a "stripped down testing alternative". We all want one that is cheaper, but doesn't undercut JAWS. How about a "screen reader emulator"? This would take the target page and render a text transcript of exactly what JAWS would have spoken. A web deverloper could then note the differences between that transcript and the visible page, and do the right thing.
Reply with quote A transcript version sounds like an excellent idea to me, better for testing in some ways as it allows for better analysis of what comes out.

Cool idea Smile

Accessify Forum Administrator ~ Nigel Peck / Starstream
"Everything I say is not meant to be set in stone" - Van Morrison
Reply with quote A transcript is a really good idea. I would be surprised if Freedom Scientific would produce one, although we could ask. If not, it would be simple to build from scratch. It would just need to be configurable in the same way that JAWS can be, so developers can see the results of different options. Apart from the configuration options, it doesn't even need much of an interface as it could just generate a file, which could be analysed on screen, or printed off.
Reply with quote Zeldman has this to say on the petition:

Jeffrey Zeldman wrote:
Freelance designers who care about accessibility want to test their work in screen readers like Freedom Scientific’s JAWS, but can’t afford to buy the product (which starts at US $895). This petition asks Freedom Scientific to create a stripped-down free version for designers. Fair enough, but surely if the company could afford to give its product away for free, it would give it to blind people before worrying about web designers stuck with shoestring budgets.

Accessify Forum Administrator ~ Nigel Peck / Starstream
"Everything I say is not meant to be set in stone" - Van Morrison
Reply with quote I posted a reply to Dave S. at http://www.maccessibility.com/archive/000841.php

It answers the question of "okay, so what do you want us to do?"

--Kynn
Reply with quote
Kynn wrote:
I posted a reply to Dave S. at http://www.maccessibility.com/archive/000841.php

It answers the question of "okay, so what do you want us to do?"

--Kynn


Again Kynn, you make some good points but I don't believe you're putting the message across effectively at all and I'm beginning to feel as though you're trying to drum up traffic on your site by deliberately writing inflammatory articles so you can drop links in forums like this instead of contributing to the respective communities.

You'd serve the cause better IMHO if you re-worded it as a tutorial and made valid replies in the threads you post with on-topic links to your resource.

I didn't even read the whole article because it seems insincere, sensationalist and attention-seeking.

Sorry about that but we're all here to learn and exchange notes, ie... we're all on the same side already. If you don't think screenreader-makers should drop their price then articulate the reasons without slagging off the very audience trying to make life generally easier for their users.

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