Screen Reader Emulator

on Friday, January 22, 2010

A key issue in website accessibility is how well your site converts to a text-to-speech reader, used by end-users with visual impairments. Essentially, a screen reader "reads" a website to the end-user, noting links, headers, tables and frames.

There is a very cool add-on to Firefox called the Fangs Screen Reader Emulator. It strips away graphics and layout and allows you to read your site as it will be read by a text-to-speech screen reader. You can download it at

Then, to test your website's screen reader friendliness, go to the Tools menu and choose Fangs. It will bring up your page in a screen reader emulator that translate your site to text only, listing exactly what will be read by the screen reader.

Here is a site as it appears in Firefox:

And as it appears in the Fangs Screen Reader Emulator (click to enlarge):

Things to watch out for (taken from the Fangs tutorial on writing for text-to-speech screen readers):
-Are there many consecutive table announcements?
-Are there long sections of uninterrupted text?
-Are the navigation links well labeled?
-Are the heading texts understandable? Is it clear for the user under which heading to look for specific content?

To learn more about writing for screen readers, go to the Fangs help site at


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