Human face of accessibility
by Elianna James
More than using JAWS
Who am I? and what am I doing?
• I own a consultancy: ‘I Break Websites LLC’.
I’m an advocate for end users
• Curious enough to be a cat – but I’m not
• Persistent enough to be a pit bull – but I’m not
• Come into my world … People who use
assistive technology as a bridge to access
• See it through their eyes, ears, hands
HR job recruitment site
• The software is a popular online HR site
• Does it work with various Assistive
• Can the candidates get the job done ?
– 1) Find a likely open job
– 2) Apply for the job
– 3) Understand what they are doing
• Go to a job site
• Find and apply for a job
• Still have their wits about them at the end of
Meet our candidates
• Three different people
• Three different skill sets related to work
• Three different problems getting to the site
– Can they do it?
– How hard will this be?
– With some feedback can we make the experience
Joseph Haynes, keyboard only user
Joseph had an accident giving him severe spine damage. He can’t use a mouse
any more but is a long time excellent accountant.
photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjixxxy/6345359269/in/set-
72157603643560400 K. Praslowicz
Angie DeMatteo, JAWS user
Angie has a genetic condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Over a period of many
years she has lost much of her vision. She is a skilled data entry specialist with a
talent for mentoring others.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldanka/3285681308/in/set-72157613160399798 Lorant
Rudy Alphonse, ZoomText user
Rudy has worked as an audio visual technician for years. He is the master in his field.
As his diabetes caused his sight to diminish he has resorted to ZoomText in Reader
mode to keep working.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mahmood/4928005439/ Mahmood Al-Yousif
• Let them loose on the site with instructions to
“find a job”
• Eagerly they set forth with only a little help
• Track problems they have
• Turn those issues into “bugs” and get them on
the product roadmap
Joseph used the keyboard
– Tab to go forward
– Shift + Tab to go backwards
– Up and down arrows
https://www.flickr.com/photos/63089963@N02/15357646087/ Lea Latumahina
• What is Joseph’s general experience with keyboard only
• “I really hate it when there are a ton of links I can
see, but I can’t get to the one I want easily. I have to
Tab over and over to get there.”
• “Something else that makes me crazy is going
through a form thinking it’s all filled out right. Then
there’s an issue and I have to try to get back to fix it!”
If you use a mouse you just place it
wherever you want
Joseph has to move through the page Tab by Tab. He
tabbed 13 times (yellow highlight) to press the ‘Search
for Jobs’ button
Job Application – many pages
Joseph tabs from page to page, filling out the form, moving through dropdown
boxes using the arrow keys and making sure he gives the potential employer all the
best details about himself.
After a while it’s time for lunch!
087/ Tom Hilton
How did Joseph fare?
• “I knew what I wanted. An Accountant job.
That made it easier.”
• “I did a search and several came up. I would
NOT want to browse on this site. It would take
• “Once I found a likely job it did take a long
time to fill out the application. I had to save it
off as a draft and come back later.”
Angie Uses JAWS
• JAWS is a screen reader
that interprets and
voices what shows up
on the computer screen
• Here is a demo:
How did Angie fare?
• “At first I was ok, because the choices weren’t
overwhelming. There was a simple enough
• “When I pressed the Search button the results
came up silently. That was a big problem! How
do I know if there were results if JAWS doesn’t
If JAWS doesn’t speak, Angie can’t
• Angie needs JAWS to speak so she understands what is
on the screen
• Angie needed help with the site at various points
because the screen did other “silent refreshes”. No visual
user would this is an issue, but for Angie it is critical.
• There were also times the focus moved suddenly
somewhere else, like to the top of the screen. “Whoops!
Where am I??”
Other problems Angie had
• Trying to navigate by using the “links list”. This
is a tool that is built into JAWS.
• By bringing it up, the JAWS user can learn
quickly what links are on a page and moving
to them by pressing ENTER.
• Here is what a links list looks like ….. with
some examples of how it may not be so useful
More about a links list
Links that are good for a screen reader user are
as unique as possible
They are as pithy as possible but still give info
Discouraging if the links list says ‘Edit’, ‘Edit’,
‘Edit’ over and over
‘Job Cart’, ‘Saved Searches’, ‘Account’ all give a
person a better idea of where they are going
and help them decide if they want to go there
Rudy uses ZoomText
• ZoomText is a screen magnifier
• Rudy uses a version that includes a reader so
that, when his eyes are really tired, the
program also reads the text
• Notice how large the screen
text is. User can only see a bit
of the screen at a time.
How did Rudy fare?
• “I use a 400x magnification and also use a high
contrast version, yellow text on black
background. I found, with this combo, some
things on the screen just disappeared.”
• “When I made a mistake filling out a form the
error was silent and I had to slide all over the
screen to figure out what the problem was.”
More about Rudy
• When any User hits an error it is helpful if the
error shows up on the screen near where the
user’s attention was last.
• Rudy is persistent. He successfully navigated
the site and applied for an audio visual
• All three Users were able to accomplish their
task – find a job opportunity and apply.
• All three Users couldn’t have done it without
their Assistive Technology
• The JAWS user needed some extra help
• Things could have been much easier if the
company and developers knew about these
Users and designed the site with them in mind
More than the usual disclaimers
• Joseph, Angie and Rudy aren’t “real” people. They
are personas made up to make a point
• The photos are real people whose pictures came
from Creative Commons. Attribution for photos on
the slides. Thanks to the great photographers for
giving physicality to my imagination!!
• Any other concerns, comments or feedback: elianna
james firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-425-1001
Three personas with different Assistive Technology needs try to apply online for a job.