Results are in. The screen reader can find the content window when alt-tabbing to it, but it’s not reading the text, and I tried several hotkeys to read it all. For context, I’m using Microsoft Narrator on HTML TADS.
However, images in HTML TADS do support alt text. If I hovered over the image, the alt text appeared. At one point, the screen reader caught it and read it out to me, but I’m not sure how I got it to do that.
Honestly, watching me attempt this is probably comical to watch. I have been told that HTML TADS works with a screen reader by a screen reader user before.
Okay, I did some poking around, and think I may or may not have found some information that is going to take me a moment to process:
The easiest and most reliable way to use TADS games with screen reader software on Windows is to the use the “DOS box” version of the TADS interpreter. This interpreter is compatible with virtually all TADS games - even games that use HTML TADS features to display graphics. The DOS-box interpreter simply ignores any graphics that the game attempts to display, and removes any special formatting effects, leaving only the plain text. Screen readers have a much easier time with this plain format than with the mixture of formatting and graphics that HTML TADS can display.
The issue I’m finding is specifically with this:
The DOS-box interpreter simply ignores any graphics that the game attempts to display, and removes any special formatting effects, leaving only the plain text.
Confusion and problems are the following:
- I have been told that clickable hyperlinks do show up in the screen reader when playing HTML TADS games. Is this not a “special formatting effect”?
- Sound only plays because an invisible, zero-size, text-based tag gets output to the screen. If you clear the screen, the sounds also stop.
- Depending on what counts as “special formatting effects”, this might also include sound.
I’ve been doing screen reader tests through Lectrote because I’m on Linux, and have only heard from one tester who uses HTML TADS on Windows with a screen reader, so I’m not working with first-hand personal experience here, but I am very confused. Add onto this that I’m not in a very good headspace as it is; I have a lot to think about right now.
Gawd, what is it like being a person who has been aware of text games for most of the medium’s lifecycle, and not some hermit who only learned what they were around 2010, and only found a community in the last few years? What must it be like to be driven to do things, and have the context and wisdom to follow through clearly?