Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Using JAWS Screen Reader To Write A WordPress 2.9.2 Post

I am testing creating a WordPress blog post using the JAWS screen reader. (Note: I am using the version of WordPress that is provided by my web hosting company, which is 2.9.2. The latest version of WordPress downloadable from WordPress.org is 3.0.1. If this is the version being used by WordPress.com, be aware that there are several differences between these two versions within both the site admin pages and the blog editor interface.)
My first challenge was to login to my account which was easy enough with the Login link that appears on my blog's home page; I used the Links List (Insert+F7) to locate the link. This displayed the Login page and put the keyboard focus into the Username edit box with forms mode on. So I typed my username and tabbed to the Password edit box. After entering the password, I tabbed to the Login button.
On my account page, I used the Links List to locate the link called Write. I am now on the Write Post page which also contains a link to any posts that are in draft mode; they appear above the Title edit box; I find the easiest way to go to a draft is to use the Links List, given that I can recall the name of it.
I added a new category when I wrote this post. I used the Edit Box List (Insert+Ctrl+E) to locate the Category edit box; unfortunately its name is not descriptive (Unlabeled1). I typed the category name and then tabbed to the Add button. The category list appears below these 2 form controls so I tabbed there and used spacebar to check the new category and uncheck the Uncategorized category which I didn't want to use anymore.
By default, the TinyMCE rich HTML editor was enabled for my blog. It was a bit tricky to find the textarea into which to type my post. I used the Form Field List (Insert+F5) to locate the likely looking item (Post Preview >> blank_page for an unpublished posting; Post View >> blank page when editing it after publishing). Via navigating around the editor, I found a hidden link that precedes the toolbar buttons explaining the following access keys: Alt+Q jumps to the toolbar buttons, Alt+Z jumps to the editor/textarea and Alt+X jumps to the element path below the editor (this lists the hierarchy of HTML tags that apply to the cursor's current location e.g. ol >> li for a level one item in an ordered list). Alt+Z works beautifully for getting me into the right place so I can start writing.
I find selecting the Save and Continue Editing button from the Forms Field List the easiest method; be sure to press Spacebar to activate the button after selecting it from the list dialog box.
Also, note that you need to use Tab (once or twice) to exit from the post textarea before you can perform another action e.g. display the Forms Field List dialog.
I added a test category which I decided to delete. This was straightforward when using the Categories page. I used the Links List to locate it. On this page, existing categories are listed in a table. The column headings are read by JAWS when you use the JAWS Table reading commands to navigate the table. I found the category I wanted to delete via using the second column (Name) to navigate to its row using Ctrl+Alt+Down Arrow. Then I used Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow to move to the seventh column (Action) which contains the Delete link. I pressed Enter on the link and the category was deleted.
You will probably want to Preview your post before you Publish it. I used the Links List to locate the Preview link. It opens a new window which I maximized with Alt+Spacebar, X.
I am not going to use any of the other features at this time such as inserting an image, link, list, file or applying any text formatting. So I need to activate the Publish button to complete my post. An easy way to find this button is to use the Buttons List dialog box (Insert+Ctrl+B). This action also has the Alt+P access key assigned to it.

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