Blind Woodworkers, Puzzling Comments

Blind Devotion

Back in March, we changed the appearance of the eZine, hoping to make it more pleasant for all to enjoy and navigate. Unfortunately, it made things harder for one group. Below is a short exchange of letters between Matt Becker, our content coordinator, and one of our readers who happens to be a blind woodworker. – Editor

“Your new changes may look nice, but they are inaccessible to blind woodworkers who use screen readers. Blind woodworkers? Yes, there are more of us than you may suspect. You might as well cancel my subscription to the eZine until you fix it so I can read it.” – Max Robinson

It was completely inadvertent on our part, so Matt responded immediately and started working on the problem. – Editor 

“Good afternoon, Max. Thank you for taking the time to offer the feedback on the site. We were under the impression that our site was compliant with screen readers for this exact purpose. I assure you it was not because we weren’t concerned with that functionality; unfortunately, we were unable to test it properly and as you pointed out, our results speak for themselves. I think I have a possible solution, but it will require a little time to get put together. Would it be all right if I contact you at this email address for testing purposes once I’ve got it in place? Again, thank you for your feedback.” – Matt Becker

“Yes, you may contact me. I will be glad to help in any way I can. I’m glad you are interested in doing something about it. Most of the time when I contact someone about this, if they answer at all, I get blown off. Thank you. May I forward your message to the woodworking for the blind email list?” – Max Robinson

Apparently, Matt not only got working on it, but had some success, because about a month later, this letter came in. – Editor

“The blind woodworking community and I are grateful for your willingness to work on this problem. You seem to be doing a good job. One thing I hope you will do is maintain the headings with the HTML label <h1>. Your web people will understand that one. The reason is that screen readers have a command that permits jumping from heading to heading. In JAWS it is the letter h. What that permits me to do is, as soon as I get to the page, I type h and the reader picks up reading at the heading and reads the article without reading all those links at the top of the screen. Of course I can read the links if I want to. Some web pages have a link at the top that says ‘skip navigation.’  That’s handy, too. Once again, I thank you for your efforts to keep your pages accessible as web page programming progresses.” – Max Robinson

Puzzling Comments Department

Reading this rather left-handed compliment had us wondering just how bad we were before. – Editor

“Congratulations. You have come a long way in improving your eZine.” –Bob Dennison

This one also had us puzzled. – Editor

“I enjoy reading the typo corner as much as anything else in the eZine. Here is another contribution from your latest eZine. “I use this moveable stop to cut a series of evenly spaced slots with my radial arm saw, forming dental molding, for example.’ It appeared in the Tricks of the Trade segment.” – Santanu Lahiri

Good catch. We changed it to the correct “dentil” shortly after it appeared, so those of you who read the issue a bit later saw it spelled correctly. “Dental” is correct when talking about teeth, but not when dealing with molding, even though the two words almost certainly share the same root. – Editor

Typo Corner 

Since you’ve raised the subject, here’s a similarly puzzling entry for our typo corner. – Editor

“There are all ways brush marks in my finish.”

Of course, he may have meant just that: the brush marks go all different ways. On the other hand, he may have meant “there are always brush marks,” something we’ve heard from many woodworkers striving to get a decent finish. We guess we’ll never know for sure. – Editor

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