The recent interest in screen reader accessibility has prompted me to write this summary of my experience with IF and the technology. I consider myself to have an average to above-average understanding of how to use my screen reader and the software needed to run IF. I use JAWS 14, the latest version. I think it is the most popular screen reader for people who are completely blind and who are of an age that might be involved with IF. Partially-sighted users like it as well, but they also use programs like Window Eyes or Zoom Text. NVDA is another reader that is popular, easy-to-use, and, unlike those I’ve already mentioned, free. However, most of these are available as a free demo version. JAWS can be downloaded for free from Freedom Scientific and it can be used in 40-minute mode, meaning it will shut off after that time has elapsed.
The following notes are based on the use of JAWS 14, Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 (IE), Mozilla Firefox 22x (MF) and Google Chrome 28x (GC). I also have all the latest IF interpreters.
If you use JAWS and Windows 7 and you don’t have one or some of the issues that I mention below, please let me know. I’d like to know what the problem is and how to get around it.
I read somewhere that Filfre is screen reader friendly, and I agree. I think it is the best interpreter for zcode and glulx games. The built-in text-to-speech functions include with some zcode and glulx interpreters is okay, but the voice is really annoying, and it can be difficult to understand at times. Also, it reads a chunk of tex and stops. It won’t repeat the description unless you redo the action. With JAWS, I can go through the text line-by-line or word-by-word, which really helps when I need to check spelling of unusual words.
Parchment is usually good, but I seem to remember that I can’t “press a key to continue” in IE. Not sure if this holds for MF or GC.
Playfic is bizarre: MF works fine, but IE doesn’t recognize anything I type.
Gargoyle doesn’t work with JAWS.
HTML TADS interpreter is great. Online interpreter, tested with Blighted Isle, shows errors and won’t accept input (perhaps because of the menu system), for IE and GC. I get the introductory text in MF, but then “Press a key to continue” phrase appears and I can’t proceed. I didn’t log in to IMFDB to play.
Quest and Adrift
Quest and Adrift 5 offline interpreters aren’t accessible; the online Quest interpreter is accessible.
Undum, Varytale, and Choice of … games work on GC, MF, and IE.
Twine works on MF all the time, IE some of the time, and GC never (haven’t tried a lot, though)
Stay tuned for how authoring systems stack up.