I had the fortune to speak at the Accessibility Camp DC this past weekend on the limitations of screen readers.  There were about 20 people in the room and we had a great discussion about the problems that many of them have using and what we thought the causes were. One of the issues that came up in conversation was screen reader literacy among developers charged with making their products accessible.

Not many developers know what a screen reader is and if they do, they most likely don’t know how to use one. They aren’t to blame as screen readers can be extremely expensive and have a very steep learning curve.

This knowledge gap among developers makes it difficult to create smooth user experiences. How can you make good decisions about a user flow if you don’t have an understanding how how that user even uses the product?

It brings to mind a great talk by bret Victor talking about the distance between creative thought and execution. There is already a very large gap when it comes to web development and it’s extended even further when you include screen readers.

I’m going to be thinking about ways to help close this gap short of training all web developers in advanced screen reader usage. In the meantime, does anyone else have any thoughts?

The Development Gap: Screen Reader Literacy and Accessible Development