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What Is A Screen Reader, And Why You, As A Web Developer, Should Care?

What Is A Screen Reader, And Why You, As A Web Developer, Should Care?

A screen reader? What’s that? I’ve known many people who had never even heard of these extraordinary devices. Meanwhile, they are becoming increasingly popular, allowing people with poor or no sight to navigate the web comfortably. But they need your help. So what is a screen reader — and why should you care?

What is a screen reader, and why you, as a web developer, should care?

Accessibility is a topic we’ve covered several times. The modern web is synonymous with the word. And while many websites look the same, it’s excellent for those who have trouble seeing. Navigating the web can be challenging, and that’s why devices like screen readers exist. Their purpose is to either read out loud the contents of a web page or to convert it to braille. 

As a developer, you should not only care about the way your website looks but also about the way your user will use it. If there’s any way to make it more accessible, there’s no reason not to do it. People with screen readers will be very grateful!

What can you do, however? Actually, many of the bits of advice are suitable for any situation. Use as few links as possible: it’s never a good idea to overload your pages with them. And it’s horrible for people with screen readers, which often get stuck trying to power through. And don’t forget to include skip links to help keyboard users get to the main content.

Also, make buttons or any such targets relatively large — it will help people on mobile devices. And don’t forget headings and subheadings. It’s good both for SEO and screen readers. Better to have too many headers than not enough! And code them correctly, <h1> , <h2> etc.

Ditch captchas. Everyone will thank you.

And the last thing we have already discussed here. Alt-texts are not to be ignored! Too many developers and editors completely forget about them — or misuse them. But it’s the only way a screen reader can interpret an image on a page. Use alt-texts as descriptions of a picture. More info here.

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