[links-list] Re: so pleased with the javascript enablement

Dave Mielke dave at mielke.cc
Thu May 30 14:07:56 PDT 2002

>Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 18:51:06 +0200
>From: clock at atrey.karlin.mff.cuni.cz
>What features of the HTML are recognized by blind people?

Most screen readers just show exactly what's on the screen. This means that a
blind user usually "sees" exactly what a sighted person sees. The big
difference is that a blind user tends to analyze the screen content in a
significantly different way. A sighted person focuses on the area of interest,
but, nevertheless, still maintains a general view of the whole screen. A blind
person is only able to read a portion of a single line at a time, and has
absolutely no idea regarding what's changing elsewhere.

Another thing which is very important for a blind user is the positioning of
the cursor. Most screen readers are typically configured to automatically jump
to where the cursor is whenever it moves, so it works best when the cursor
always automatically goes to the most useful place. This is something which
links is already quite good at, so I'm only mentioning this point for

While I'm mentioning the cursor, perhaps I should reraise an issue I sent to
the e-mail address mentioned in the links manual. If someone has already
responded to it, it may be that I subscribed to these mailing lists too late to
see it.

BRLTTY supports a feature known as cursor routing. Most braille displays have a
routing key just above each character. The purpose of this key is to bring the
cursor to its character. This is very useful to a blind user since it's
typically very difficult for him to find the cursor, and then figure out
exactly how to get it to where he originally wanted it.

BRLTTY brings the cursor to a given character by simulating up/down and
left/right arrow key presses. This only works well, though, when the cursor
moves reasonably predictably. BRLTTY first uses up/down arrow key press
simulation to bring the cursor to the right line, and then left/right arrow key
press simulation to bring the cursor to the right character. It gives up (and
backtracks one step) as soon as the cursor seems to be moving in the wrong

Links offers two styles of link numbering (controlled by the "move within a
table column" option), and neither one works very well with BRLTTY's cursor
routing feature. This makes it rather difficult for a braille user to read a
certain link and then request that the cursor be brought to it. Would it be
possible for links to offer a scheme which would move from left to right on one
line, and then from left to right on the next line, etc? It's a little more
complicated with links, of course, because the screen can be scrolled
horizontally, but I thought I'd throw out the topic for discussion, and
hopefully for eventual resolution, since links has now become a browser which
is fairly blind-friendly.

Dave Mielke           | 2213 Fox Crescent | I believe that the Bible is the
Phone: 1-613-726-0014 | Ottawa, Ontario   | Word of God. Please contact me
EMail: dave at mielke.cc | Canada  K2A 1H7   | if you're concerned about Hell.

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