web accessibility

What is Web Accessibility?

Web Accessibility refers to the practice of making websites accessible to people with disabilities. It is imperative that web designers consider this when creating their websites to give equal access and equal opportunity to all people. This purpose of this website is to explore one of the assistive measures available to people with sight issues -- Screen Readers. The audience for this website is anyone who is interested in web development and would like to ensure their website is accessible by all.

Screen Readers

Screen readers are software packages that translate the screen information to the user via sound. The screen reader essentially becomes the blind users’ interface to the the particular web site or application. For example, when a word processing document is opened, it reads the document title, application name and cursor position, and tells any additional information, such as the existence of headers and footers, and what they say.

The table below gives a brief description of the particular screen reader as well as price and applicable operating system. Please click on each individual logo to get further information about that product.


Description Price OS
jaws JAWS for Windows is a computer screen reader program that allows blind and visually impaired people to read the screen with either synthesized text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display. JAWS is compatible with Lotus Notes, Microsoft Office Suite, MSN Messenger, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Internet Explore, Firefox and many more. Standard Single License $895.00 Windows
window-eyes GW Micor's Window-Eyes provides blind users access to Windows based computers by speaking the contents of the computer's screen. This software makes all applications accessible to the blind user. Window-Eyes gives total control over what you hear and how you hear it. Standard Single License $895.00 Windows
hal image Hal works by recognizing text from your computer screen and reading that text aloud through your computer's sound card. It also recongizes Windows dialogs, icons, buttons, menus and controls. Hal's Virtual Cursor allows the reader to browse the Internet without a mouse. Hal gives you the choice of 9 languages. The software also has fast and responsive Braille output. Standard Single License $795.00 Windows
voiceover Apple has developed a product called Voice-Over to help those who have little or no vision use a computer. By using gestures, you can use your trackpad to hear a spoken description of the item under your finger. The Voice-Over is bundled with your Mac computer -- so no extra cost. $.00 OS X

Screen Reader Simulations

There are several simulations to give web developers an idea why this assistive technique is such a valuable tool. Some examples of such simulations are below: