Using Apple’s VoiceOver: CNN and ESPN quick and dirty accessibility eval

First, some really helpful resources for getting the finer points of Voice Over:



There’s a lot more to VoiceOver than I thought. It seems to be quite controllable, but there are many, many keyboard shortcuts to learn. I downloaded an eval document that helped me narrow down the keystrokes for the following tasks.



When reading the CNN page for headings (control-option-U), the list made sense and I was able to navigate through all the headings in a fairly sensible order. Hitting Return goes to that link and reads it, then control-option-u begins reading the rest of the content under the heading. I wanted to watch the video associated with the h1 in the center column. Once I navigated to the heading, using control-option-right arrow put the focus on “click to play” and I was able to “click”: shift-control-option-spacebar. I’m assuming that’s the normal order that a screen reader user would follow for such a task. Since I could see a “focus” rectangle, I knew which keys to click.

When viewing links (control-option-U, right arrow) it was pretty tedious to get through all the horizontal navigation at the top of the page. The first link, the CNN logo / home link, was non-descriptively named “/1”. The rest had much better descriptions. There are a lot of links on the page to get through.

The images were often read identically to the link text below them, so they were not often descriptive of the image content.

I was able to browse links in a separate list and images in a separate list.


The ESPN page was extremely tedious with all of its links. the scores were pretty cryptic, so you would really need to establish some familiarity with the site to know what was going on. Actively navigating them for a specific sport, such as Tennis, was extremely difficult. I would never be able to do it without seeing the focus rectangle on the screen.

The headings didn’t all make sense to me. I don’t know what the “POY Debate” is so I clicked on it to find out. I could hear the heading, but was unable to “click” using the shift-control-option-spacebar for some reason. Argh. All in all, it was an infuriating page to navigate compared to the CNN page, even when I cheated and looked at the screen.

There was a list of images that I could access, and that worked okay. They were very brief descriptions.

Finding something basketball related was difficult for me because I don’t know basketball. I finally recognized the name Shaq. Yeah, like I said. Not a basketball fan.

All in all, ESPN was an incredibly difficult site to navigate. I’d love to know how long the learning curve is and if it’s worth it.

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