Well it has now been about five days since I have dropped all my clients for Web 2.0 applications. Let me be perfectly honest with you and say that for two of those days I barely touch the computer. But on the other days I definitely kept to the commitment of not using anything but the web to do my work.
As the title of this post says in some ways I definitely feel like a beginner again. there are a lot of times where I’m really not sure what’s going on or how to do what I need to do. It’s a really disconcerting feeling and it may be what drives me back in the end. I cannot say I have had one session with the computer that went smoothly or easily. Some of it is screen reader issues and some of that is just not knowing what to do. I’m very thankful that every application I’m deciding to use has really good easy to use keyboard command lists.
I realize while reading over my last two posts that I neglected to tell you what choices I have made in the process of setting up this project. I will be doing all my work in Firefox. Overall I found Firefox to be the most responsive and easy to use browser. Most of all I appreciate how easy it is to spell check within Firefox using a screen reader. I am not very familiar with chrome and I felt that jumping into chrome would be too much more to add to this process than I would be willing to take. I also feel that the work Marco has been doing at Mozilla is definitely worth committing time to using.
Now for a brief discussion on some of the problems I am still having. Let me explain how I found my workflow goes in Gmail. When I am using JAWS I find that navigating the inbox works fairly well. Occasionally I find that I must use the J and K keys to navigate messages and that other times the arrow keys work just as well. Opening a message has only been about 85% reliable using both screen readers. Occasionally I will hit enter to open a message and nothing happens. As I arrow through the message list NVDA does tell me that the messages are opened or closed but I’m still not sure what that really means. Once I have opened the message with JAWS I turn on the virtual cursor to read the messages. I have found no other way with JAWS to get to the body of the messages people have sent me.
I do not need to change to the equivalent of virtual mode within NVDA as frequently because it seems to have a much better understanding of when I need to navigate with keyboard shortcuts or when I just want to read the text. I believe NVDA is detecting the application role much more reliably than JAWS is.
One of the problems I have had with NVDA is during the process of composing a message. My practice is to type the message up as quickly as I can and then go back to the beginning and read it slowly to look for spelling mistakes typos or any other edits. Consistently I have found that when I am replying to a message there seems to be a few silent lines within what is being called the WYSIWYG frame. I am not able to read the first few lines in that frame.
Again in comparison Twitter has been much simpler. The only problems I have had with it in the past two days are when I forget to use the tab key to move to the Tweet button and just try hitting enter when sending a tweet. Overall Twitter is getting simpler all the time. There are still some issues that need to be resolved but the developers have assured me that they are on the to do list. The twitter accessibility developer has been extraordinarily supportive and responds to all my tweets with comments on the interface.
Tomorrow I go back to work after a three-day weekend in two days at a conference no more slacking off for me and no more putting the computer down when I get frustrated. If I make it through until Friday without using Outlook or basic HTML I think I have a chance at succeeding at this challenge. In the meantime the four-inch stack of braille paper I am carrying around with me will get very worn and tattered. Oh yes did I forget to mention I Brailled all the keyboard shortcuts I thought I would need for this experiment. Yes it’s a four-inch stack of double-sided braille paper. I could’ve probably halved this if I didn’t also include the Mac commands. But I do expect to try this on the Mac around the middle of the month. Thanks for reading