Volunteering for a friend of mine that has a non-profit group who are puppy raisers for a dog guide school, had asked if I could assist with the groups web site.

I decided to go all in and use WordPress out–of -the-box with 5.4 and the twenty-twenty theme and the Gutenberg editor. So far, I have been making slow progress being blind utilizing JAWS 2020 as my screen reader, Latest version of Firefox, and only my keyboard.

I have so far created four pages, and the main navigation menu on the home page,, with a little bit of effort to accomplish these tasks.

Where I ran into a problem, was that it took me about 1 1/2 hours just to figure out how to use the block editor to create a simple list of three items, and making each list item it’s own respective link.

Here is what I had to do to finally accomplish getting the list done and functional.

I had to first choose the block list for creating a new bulleted or numbered list. Then with the keyboard, on the first item make sure the cursor was after the bullet by pressing the end key, then typing the text for the first item. Then press enter for the second item, which puts the cursor to the left of the bullet, so pressing end puts the cursor in the proper spot to begin typing. I had to then repeat these steps to manage the third item in my list.

At this point I selected the text of the first item,and pressed control + K to insert a link. A dialog comes up and wants a URL, so I typed the URL and was informed that one item was found and I could press enter to insert into my list. I then attempted to repeat for the second list item, and found that it had copied the URL from the first item to the second item.

What I finally figured out was to update the page, then select the text for the second item and then press control + K to insert the second link, and then update the page again. Then I repeated this process for the third item to create its link.

By this time I was bitching and complaining so much that my girl-friend was laughing her ass off.

I sure as hell hope that sighted people that can use a mouse is having an easier time of it,because the idiots that is pushing the Gutenberg project forward without an accessibility policy in place is asking for a major problem the further along this project grows.

Orlando, Florida early November 1993 and fighting a common cold, or so everyone thought. Battled symptoms for what appeared to be a common head cold, however, as it grew closer to Thanksgiving and symptoms were getting worse such as diarrhea muscle aches and fatigue, doctors are now assuming a severe case of the flu. It’s now approaching Christmas 1993 and I am in major pain with the most uncomfortable pressure in my head that travels all the way down through the neck and into the lower back, and now can’t even eat or drink without vomiting whatever I consume back up. New Year’s Day 1994 getting ready to head out to the Citrus Bowl game with my Dad because my brother sent us each tickets to see the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Tennessee Volunteers for a Christmas present, and I open the door and take a step when everything goes completely black.

I finally wake up to darkness, however, can see people moving around and I can hear them talking. The first words out of my mouth is where am I, and where’s the car because we have a football game to experience, and I was bound and determined not to miss this game. I was told that I was in the ORMC (Orlando Regional Medical Center) emergency room and the game had been over for hours. Now that’s a hell of a way to find out the score to the ball game; at least the Nittany Lions defeated the Volunteers 31 – 13. While I was worried about the game,the doctors were concerned about why I kept saying it was dark, when the lights were burning bright. The doctors started to focus on the painful pressure in my head and ordered immediate x-rays, an MRI, and a CT scan. The result of these tests were still unknown as to why, but what was happening is major fluid build up from my spinal column causing the pressure and pain. Doctors started by trying to relieve the pressure by spinal taps, and they eventually diagnosed pseudo-tumor cerebri for the medical issue causing all of my symptoms. The pressure in my head the entire time was doing significant damage to my optic nerves, and by the end of January, the spinal taps were no longer working as the fluid cushioning my brain is no longer draining properly. From February 1994 to June 1994, I went through seven surgeries three optic nerve sheath decompressions, one on the left eye, and two on the right. When those three failed the doctors opted to try a lower lumbar shunt which also failed fairly quickly. The last three surgeries were on my head with the first two failing and the third working to this day 26 years later. As a result I have a ventriculoperitoneal (VP shunt) which ultimately saved my life, however, left me totally blind.

This only scratches the surface, and you might ask why I am writing this now? I guess the answer is that I really don’t know an answer to that question, other than I have quite a number of friends over the years, especially people I went to school with that don’t know the story, so I was compelled to tell it now. I probably could write a book about all of the surgeries and my emotions throughout that six or seven months in 1994 but why bother as I have been living a rewarding life because of all of my family and friends.

I am going to close this by saying, I don’t want anyone to feel sorry. I don’t want any sympathy nor even empathy. I just want you to be a friend!

I am writing this article to hopefully explain the basics on how a screen reader/magnifier obtains information to provide feedback to the user. I am going to use JAWS (Job Access With Speech) for Windows to discuss as it is personally my screen reader of choice, however, other screen readers/magnifiers use similar methods, and I will point this out as this article progresses.

The first technique to mention is called “screen scraping,” which was a popular method use by screen readers/magnifiers in DOS times. This method, however, got pushed to the back seat with the introduction of Windows and the Graphical User Interface (GUI).

JAWS uses another method to populate its OSM (Off Screen Model), starting with Windows 95/NT 4.0 Service Pack 4. Note: Although Windows 95/98/ME did not utilize the video chain, Windows NT 4.0 SP 4 along with all versions succeeding Windows 2000 starting with Windows XP, and this is what I would like to focus on.

JAWS along with other screen readers/magnifiers injected their own video driver into the operating system video chain. You can attempt to picture this as funnels sitting one on top of another allowing the content to flow through. Following is an example of this:

VideoDriver.dll -> JAWSVideo.dll -> VideoDriver.sys

In the above analogy of using the concept of funnels, the video driver for JAWS is the middle funnel. Basically the video driver gets information from the operating system, then allows it to flow through to the JAWS video driver, then the content flows through to the system driver.

Once JAWS has the content, it populates the OSM which is essentially the brains for the screen reader. The OSM is where most if not all decisions are made for what gets spoken to the user and when.

Microsoft then introduced mirror technology which is basically what it sounds like, it mirrors the content from the video driver as it passes to the system driver.

Enough of the basics of the video chain, let’s move on to some other methods that assistive technology uses to provide feedback to the user such as MSAA(Microsoft Active Accessibility). MSAA has essentially evolved into what is been implemented for assistive technologies to hook into to interact with the Windows operating system and applications called UIA (UI Automation).

Last but not least, will mention the use of a DOM (Document Object Model). Microsoft exposes a DOM API for several of its applications for many things,one of which is accessibility and can be observed mostly in the Microsoft Office Suite of Applications. Many other applications such as web browsers also expose a DOM API.

Well, OK, that wasn’t the last item to discuss. What about the internet? Many screen readers use many of the methods already mentioned in obtaining content and then parsing the rendered HTML which several screen readers/magnifiers use to populate what is known as a virtual buffer so that the users can read and interact with web pages as if a sighted person were viewing the page.

Screen readers/magnifiers do not affect the internet in any way, all they do is interface with the methods and content rendered by whichever browser is being used by whoever’s choice.

I could have gone quite a bit more into technical detail, however, this is just the basics so whomever reds this doesn’t begin to fall asleep. So in closing , thanks for reading and I welcome any feedback.