Screen reader FAQ

Document created by Community User on Jul 29, 2016Last modified by Community User on Jun 6, 2017
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Information about screen readers and MAP Growth tests.


How do screen readers work?

In addition to reading text on the screen, screen reader software will also announce specific information that will help the user understand the layout and function of the various items on the page. Alternative text descriptions will also be read in place of pictures.

Headings are one way that someone using a screen reader can scan the page for content. For example, in MAP Growth assessments the sign-in page has 3 headings:
  1. Sign-In (heading level 1),
  2. Choose Your Name (heading level 2), and:
  3. Select your test (heading level 2).

There are 5-7 headings on each question page. There is only one heading level 1, "MAP", on each page, but there are several other headings at level 2, such as: Toolbar, Directions, Information, Question, Answer Options and Navigation.

Buttons, links, edit fields and combo boxes (drop-down menus) are all labeled so the user knows what action is required. For example, while signing in, a student will hear that there is a Select Name field combo box. This lets them know there is a drop-down menu that they can use to select their name.

All images in accessible tests (tests with the word "Accessible" in the name) have been tagged with alternative text descriptions. These descriptions are not visible on-screen, but students using screen readers will hear this information when they encounter images within an assessment.

For questions about spelling and punctuation, how will a student know how a word is spelled or what punctuation is used?

Most screen reader software will have the option to read individual characters. The instructions for how to do this will vary by product. For example, in JAWS, students can press the right and left arrows to read each character in a line of text. Both letters and punctuation will be announced when the student presses the right or left arrow. If the screen reader is not announcing punctuation when reading by character, you can adjust this in the screen reader settings.

Students may also use a refreshable Braille display to determine the correct spelling and punctuation of an item.

How will students know which letters are capitalized?

The screen reader software will indicate a capital letter in various ways, depending on the program or settings. Users can modify their settings to have the screen reader announce a capital letter by saying a particular word, tone or pitch of voice. For example, with default settings in JAWS, users will hear a pitch change for capital letters when reading by character.

How will students using a screen reader know when a word is underlined or bolded?

Questions that contain emphasized words will be indicated to a student using a screen reader by saying “begin emphasis” and “end emphasis" before and after the word.

How does a screen reader announce fill in the blank questions?

Items that have an underline within text, indicating a blank space will announce, “Fill in the blank”.

How will students using a screen reader know when a calculator is available?

Some test questions allow students to use item aids, like a calculator. The onscreen calculator is currently not accessible for screen reader users. However, students will hear a message after the item loads that tells the student a calculator is available and that they may use their own calculator for this item.

Can students using screen readers use the highlighter or eraser?

At this time, the highlighter and eraser are not accessible for students using screen readers. Although these item aids will function, there is no announcement of what text is selected or highlighted.

Can students use the Lockdown Browser?

Some third-party applications, like JAWS, are not compatible with the Lockdown Browser. Please contact your Account Manager at NWEA for assistance with enabling an alternate testing environment using the Firefox web browser.

Are there further instructions for students using a screen reader with MAP Growth assessments?

In general, students should be able to use the standard key commands for that third party application. For example, the down arrow in JAWS will read the next line of text or item on the page. For the test session login pages, students should use Tab to navigate the different edit fields. A script is available to read to students before taking the test. It will give further instructions for students using screen readers.

How do I report a problem with a question?

If you encounter an item that does not function properly or one that you feel is inaccessible, please submit a problem item report: How to report a problem item in MAP Growth.

Include the following information in order to help us resolve your issue:
  • Third party application: Name and version. Example: JAWS 16
  • Refreshable braille display (if applicable): Name and type. Example: Focus 40
  • Describe the issue: Example: The picture in this item does not have an alternative text description.

Can students use refreshable braille displays?

See Is refreshable braille supported for MAP Growth testing?

Why doesn’t the orange dotted focus indicator follow what the screen reader is reading?

The focus indicator is part of our keyboard navigation tools and is intended to provide visual feedback to students who are using the keyboard to navigate a test. Screen readers have their own keyboard navigation and focus indicator styles. JAWS, for example, navigates the page with audio feedback and does not have a visual focus indicator. If you use the Tab key, you will see how the orange dotted focus indicator moves around the screen.

See also

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