Preliminary Information: Understanding Screen Readers
Screen Reader Basics:
- A screen reader reads text.
- The text is read top to bottom.
- This is a great way to read short articles or letters.
- It is not so great for reading an 80-page manual or finding a particular product in a catalog.
Click here to see how a screen reader reads a short document
- Most people do not read a long document from top to bottom.
- Visual elements are meant to make reading easier.
- Larger fonts draw the eye to a heading or subheading.
- Lists and columns break down content.
- Graphics help understanding and enhance the meaning of your text.
Challenges for screen readers
- How does a screen reader indicate text used for emphasis, such as print that is larger and bold?
- When reading columns, how does a screen reader know to read all of the contents of the first column before reading the contents of the second one?
- What does a screen reader do when it sees a graphic?
Most important accessibility principle
When creating documents, one of the most important accessibility principles is that we have a choice: We can format a document so it is styled only by visual appearance, or we can format it by applying underlying code that enables a screen reader to read the document too. Assistive technology uses the underlying instructions to interpret content.
When a document is created with accessibility in mind, the screen reader can indicate and easily navigate to visual elements, such as headings, lists, and graphics.
Go to Concept 1: Creating Logically Structured Headings
Go Back to Introduction: Three Useful MS Word Accessibility Concepts You Can Start Using Today