Testing with a screen reader

In case you missed it on accessify, Mike Davies posted detailed notes from his presentation on AJAX and accessibility. It’s all good, but this bit I applaud (right at the end):

Don’t let a test team or web developer test with a screen reader. The only people who should ever test with a screen reader are those people who use one day in and day out…

I suggest a first pass test with an experienced screen reader users – this is good for ascertaining whether the application is accessible…

You really need a normal screen reader user to test your application – this is more accurate in terms of how accessible your application is.

This matches advice I’ve been giving developers for a while: By all means try a screen reader to get an impression of the experience, but do not make decisions based on your experience.

You can get strange things like the phonetic spellings of access keys, e.g. Press alt and ay, then enter for the accessibility help. (Wrong on so many levels.)

Have things changed? Interesting discussion on WebAim.