Now the thing about having people you respect tell you when you’re wrong is that it really sinks in. The recent JAWS petition has drawn criticism. Many have gone on record denouncing it, some more vociferously than others.
While the points against it have been made, you should not feel bad for signing it. Why? Because your hearts were in the right place, God bless you all.
The resulting dialogue has come up with this: Freedom Scientific, the creators of JAWS, offer a completely free demo version of the product that lasts for 40 minutes before requiring a system reboot. Wisdom of the moment says you have no need for a free or mostly so developer’s edition because this demo version exists. It’s good enough for you. (The question is begged: since Freedom Scientific makes zero profit either way, the effective difference is what? One way is ‘legitimate’, the other is not. Let’s not get too tangled up in this, because both arguments have holes.)
We’re all on the same side, and quibbles notwithstanding, we want the same thing. So in my journey of discovery over this past week, I continued re-phrasing the same question until I got an answer I was satisfied with. Kynn Bartlett provided me with what I needed to read, and I commend you all to give it your well-deserved attention.
- JAWS is a specialized application; if you do not commit to a solid week of running it without a monitor to fall-back on you can’t expect to use it to test effectively. So even using the demo version isn’t going to get you very far.
- There are other screenreaders on the market; you shouldn’t be catering to software, although it can’t hurt to later run your work by someone who actually has a screenreader.
- If you code to WCAG, you are creating accessible sites, software quirks aside.
Read Kynn’s tutorial and be aware of the issues. But instead of spending a bit of time fooling around with an application you have little hope of being able to use properly, instead spend that time familiarizing yourself with WCAG, and brush up with the plethora of information that’s available for free already.