Thursday, May 20, 2004

Static Text and Screen Readers

Burning issue: Acommodating low-vision users

Here's something that sometimes falls through the cracks when designing UI: people with low vision might need to use a screen reader to work their way through your interface.

Several issues arise in this scenario, but let's just touch on one for now: You might have static text on a screen (that is, text that's not affiliated with a control such as an option button). This could include explanatory text for a dialog box or explanatory dynamic text that changes depending on what's been selected.

Because the user can specify how much information to have read aloud, this text might not get read as the screen reader moves down the screen; and if the user simply presses TAB to move quickly among options, this static text will probably not get read. If at all possible the UI should mitigate this by making control label text as clear as possible.

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