I and another developer recently performed a preliminary experiment using MAGic with Speech to determine its suitability for Web accessibility testing. This work is part of my effort to find alternatives to using JAWS for the same purpose. See my previous, related post,”Stop Using JAWS for Web Accessibility Testing?“.
[Note: I would like to hire, as a consultant, an experienced user of MAGic with Speech. Please contact me.]
Description of MAGic with Speech
MAGic is a screen magnifier for people with low vision or learning disabilities. It not only enlarges screen imagery up to 36 times, but also enables setting of tinting-, brightness- and contrast of foreground- and background colors.
Three important features for our test:
- many of the same reading commands as JAWS;
- reads aloud in a voice the text displayed on the screen; and
- can highlight words as they are read aloud.
Specific Test Purpose
I want to determine if using MAGic would solve a significant problem JAWS presents for accessibility testing. The Web content JAWS reads can not be visually tracked. This confounds sighted developers and people to whom JAWS is being demonstrated.
Background & Setup
I am sighted. Rich, the other developer and a long-time JAWS user, is not. We conducted the test in a quiet office on The MIT campus. Installed on Rich’s computer were MAGic Standard with Speech 11 and NVDA. On mine were JAWS 11 and, later, the same version of MAGic that Rich was using. Both of us had previously tried MAGic, with Rich having become more-familiar with its functions and use.
We focused our test on three home pages: www.mit.edu, www.disabilityinfo.org and www.clearhelper.org. We are familiar with them and know their accessibility to be good. We simultaneously navigated each page multiple times.
The test had four phases:
- Rich used MAGic while I watched;
- Rich used MAGic as I used JAWS;
- Rich used JAWS while I used MAGic; and
- Rich used JAWS and MAGic together as I used MAGic.
With MAGic’s configuration tool, we enabled and disabled sets of primary functions. Two we invoked often were speech only and speech with word highlighting.
The first two phases proved problematic because Rich was unable to navigate page headings with MAGic. To find a page’s main content, screen-reader users can look for a level-one heading. They can then move from heading to heading to find sections of important content. Though MAGic produces a list of headings, we could find no way to make it navigate headings as Rich is accustomed with JAWS. We then switched computers so I would be the primary MAGic user / tester.
In the third phase, as in the previous two, we tried to invoke MAGic’s word highlighting. It did not work consistently. When it did work, I could visually track the content MAGic was reading. Because Magic also spoke the content, Rich could track where I was in a page while he navigated the same one with JAWS.
For the fourth phase, I installed MAGic on my computer running JAWS. We conjectured that using them in concert might enable extra functionality in MAGic. This was due to statements by Freedom Scientific, maker of both products.
- “MAGic adds visual enhancements when used in conjunction with JAWS.”
- “MAGic is fully compatible with our JAWS screen reader …”.
We had hoped the extra functionality would include page navigation via headings. If it did, we could not find it.
Results from the third phase were promising when the word-highlighting feature functioned. It is likely our testing would have been more fruitful had we been more familiar with MAGic. Additional testing will be needed to determine how well MAGic mimics a screen-reader’s page navigation.
- I plan to hire, as a consultant, an experienced user of MAGic with speech. That person and I will conduct future tests.
- I will contact Freedom Scientific to address directly the issues encountered.
- Rich had NVDA rather than JAWS installed on the computer he used because he was borrowing it for our testing.
- The issue of JAWS cost I noted in my previous, related post would be partially ameliorated with MAGic. Its cost is about 55% that of JAWS.
- Eric Damery of Freedom Scientific, at a JAWS 11 demonstration I attended, suggested using MAGic instead of JAWS for accessibility testing.
- No endorsement of Freedom Scientific or any of its products is expressed or implied.