16 July 2018
Are web screen readers enough?
“…thanks but we don’t need accessible formats, we use a website screen reader on our site…”
This is unfortunately something we’re hearing more and more from our clients, but unfortunately it’s a misunderstanding which may create further barriers. We explain why…
So first off, what are they, if they’re not regular screen readers? The website describes Browsealoud as support software “which helps website visitors who require online reading support and those who simply prefer to listen to information instead of reading it”. It is promoted as particularly useful for people with print disabilities (e.g. dyslexia) or with English as a second language, which is great news.
However Texthelp – the company who produce Browsealoud – state that the software is only useful for “those with mild visual impairments”, as users need some vision to navigate around the screen and use the toolbar.
This is what concerns us when our clients say they don’t need accessible formats because they already have web screen readers. When people mistakenly rely on this type of software for people with more severe visual impairments, it creates barriers to communication and renders online content inaccessible.
Furthermore, when making reasonable adjustments for service-users and clients, it’s essential to offer information in people’s preferred format. This could be Braille, Audio, Large Print, E-text or Easy Read. So although we welcome website reading support software, it cannot replace accessible formats entirely. Relying on this alone with mean your clients are missing out on your information.