Hints & tips for using websites with Dolphin GuideConnect tutorial

This tutorial gives you hints and tips to help you use websites more effectively with GuideConnect.

Inaccessible websites.

The average website these days is pretty accessible and generally website accessibility is improving all the time. There are always exceptions however and to be honest, as a GuideConnect user, there’s not really anything you can do to fix it. Similarly, if a website is not accessible in the first place, Dolphin cannot do anything to fix it either. The best most advanced screenreader in the world will not be able to use a website if the website itself is poorly labelled, if the buttons and tick boxes on the site do not work, if interactive scroll areas do not work with screen reading software etc. Screen reading software can only operate effectively in website environments which enable them to do so. Although it won’t happen all the time, you should be prepared that as a user of assistive screen reading technology you will at some point come across websites which you will simply not be able to use properly.

Navigation.

There are an awful lot of shortcut keys available on GuideConnect to help you navigate around websites. It is unlikely that you will use all of them all of the time however. Here, I suggest the shortcut keys that you will get the most benefit from using straight away. Once you have mastered using these, you may find that you wish to start using some of the others available to you. A complete list of the shortcut keys for use on websites can be found in the, Using the internet with GuideConnect tutorial.

The skip to main content link.

Most web pages, although not all, have a “skip to main content” link near the top of the web page. This link is particularly useful as it means by pressing the Enter key when you are on it, the focus of GuideConnect will be moved down to the main content of the page. This could be an article that you wish to read, details of an item you are thinking about purchasing or just the welcome text on the home page of the website for example. Websites which have this, “skip to main content” link generally have it at the top of each page of the website, so it’s a useful way of jumping to the bits you’re interested in rather than having to navigate through a swathe of clutter populating the first quarter of a page.

Jumping to the top or bottom of a web page.

It is often beneficial to be able to jump straight to the top or bottom of a web page rather than spending ages navigating up and down it with arrow keys or shortcut keys. You can easily do this by using the following hotkeys.

– To jump to the top of a web page on a computer with a full sized keyboard, hold down the left Control key and press and release the Home key. The focus of GuideConnect will jump to the top of the page and GuideConnect will announce, “top of web page”. You can check this by pressing the up arrow key once and GuideConnect will repeat the announcement.

– To jump to the top of a web page on a laptop computer without a number pad on the keyboard, hold down the left Control key, the Fn key and press and release the Left Arrow key. The focus of GuideConnect will jump to the top of the page and GuideConnect will announce, “top of web page”. You can check this by pressing the up arrow key once and GuideConnect will repeat the announcement.

– To jump to the bottom of a web page on a computer with a full sized keyboard, hold down the left Control key and press and release the End key. The focus of GuideConnect will jump to the bottom of the page and GuideConnect will announce, “bottom of web page”. You can check this by pressing the down arrow key once and GuideConnect will repeat the announcement.

– To jump to the bottom of a web page on a laptop computer without a number pad on the keyboard, hold down the left Control key, the Fn key and press and release the Right Arrow key. The focus of GuideConnect will jump to the bottom of the page and GuideConnect will announce, “bottom of web page”. You can check this by pressing the down arrow key once and GuideConnect will repeat the announcement.

Headings.

Headings are an important part of websites and are a useful way by which those of us using screen reading software can navigate web pages. For all intents and purposes, a heading is the title of a section of a web page. This could be a main heading such as the title of an article, a subheading denoting a sub category or a list of search results on Google or on a shopping web page. Headings are divided into levels each specified with a number. For example, heading level 1, heading level 2, heading level 3 and so on. There are several ways by which we can navigate headings with GuideConnect.

1: Each time you press the letter H key when on a web page, the focus of GuideConnect will move to the next heading on that page regardless of heading level. You can move to the previous heading regardless of heading level by holding down the Shift key and pressing the letter H key.

2: Press the F2 key on the keyboard or the A button on the Dolphin remote to open the actions menu. Then, use the down arrow key to move down the actions menu to find the Headings option, then press the Enter key on the keyboard or the Okay button on the Dolphin remote. A list of all of the headings on the web page will be displayed. You can then use the up and down arrow keys to move through the list to find a heading. Once you’ve found the heading you want, press the Enter key on the keyboard or the Okay button on the Dolphin remote and the focus of GuideConnect will jump to that heading on the web page.

3: Press numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 on the keyboard to jump to the next heading of that heading level on the web page. To move to the previous heading of that heading level on the web page, hold down the Shift key and press and release number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 on the keyboard. Not all websites are split into headings in the same way but as a general rule of thumb, heading level 1 will be the main subject of the web page, heading level 2 will be the titles of sub categories within the main subject, heading level 3 will be search results or individual items within a list of reference. Heading levels 4, 5 and 6 are usually sub sections of sub categories, footer headings of the web page or similar. It is for that reason that heading levels 1, 2 and 3 are the most immediately useful.

An excellent example of using headings effectively is when you have done a web search and the Google search results page is displayed. Rather than using the down arrow key to move down the page item by item until you eventually get to the search results, if you press the number 1 key a few times until you hear GuideConnect announce, “search results”, you will have jumped passed all of the clutter near the top of the page and the focus of GuideConnect will be exactly where you need it to be to successfully navigate through the search results.

Then, if you press the number 3 key, you will start moving through the search results. Each time you press the number 3 key, the GuideConnect focus will jump to the next search result. If you wish to jump backwards through the search results, hold down the Shift key and press and release the number 3 key. Each time you do so you will be jumped to the previous search result. When you have found the search result you want, press the Enter key and GuideConnect will load the web page you selected.

Links.

Links are an important part of websites and are a useful way by which those of us using screen reading software can navigate web pages. For all intents and purposes, a link is an electronic pathway to opening a different page on the current website or to take you to an article, item or piece of information on another website. There are two ways by which we can navigate links with GuideConnect.

1: Each time you press the letter K key when on a web page, the focus of GuideConnect will move to the next link on that page. You can move to the previous link by holding down the Shift key and pressing the letter K key.

2: Press the F2 key on the keyboard or the A button on the Dolphin remote to open the actions menu. Then, use the down arrow key to move down the actions menu to find the Links option, then press the Enter key on the keyboard or the Okay button on the Dolphin remote. A list of all of the links on the web page will be displayed. You can then use the up and down arrow keys to move through the list to find a link. Once you’ve found the link you want, press the Enter key on the keyboard or the Okay button on the Dolphin remote and the link will be activated and the page associated with that link will be loaded.

The read from here & pause speech keys.

When you are on a web page and you have navigated to a heading or part of the page you wish to read from, you can press the F5 key on a keyboard or the speaker button on the Dolphin remote and GuideConnect will read from the current position. It will continue reading until you press the left Control key on a keyboard or the speaker key again on a Dolphin remote to pause the speech. To get it started again or to pause it, simply repeat these steps. This is an incredibly useful function and allows you to read entire articles or parts of a web page with complete control over when the reading starts and stops.

Filling in edit areas & completing forms.

Edit Areas.

Edit areas are an integral part of most websites. They can take the form of boxes to type user names and passwords into, comment boxes for writing reviews or commenting on social media posts, performing searches within websites and more.

Using edit areas on web pages with GuideConnect is very straight forward. When you move onto an edit area, GuideConnect will announce, “edit area. Select to enter text”. Once you have heard this, do the following.

1: Press the Enter key and GuideConnect will announce, “interactive mode”. This means that the focus of GuideConnect is within the edit area and you are now able to type inside it.

2: Type the desired information, then press the Escape key. GuideConnect will announce, “navigation mode”. This means that the focus of GuideConnect is now outside of the edit area and you are able to use your normal navigation keys to move around the web page, for example, to move down to the next edit area in a form or to move down to the search button.

Other items.

You will often find that an online form consists of several edit areas as well as selection lists, check boxes and buttons. Here is a breakdown of what they are and how to use them with GuideConnect.

Selection lists: Depending on the web page you are on, selection lists can be referred to as selection list, selection menu, pop up menu or scroll area. This is due to how the web page has been created rather than how GuideConnect sees the information. For all intents and purposes, they all perform the same function. Most commonly they give you the ability to select a number such as your day of birth, shoe size etc. They are also used for selecting month of birth, blouse/shirt sizes etc. They are even sometimes used to enable you to choose colours or quantities but as with most things to do with the internet, this will vary depending on the web page you are using. To use a selection list, do the following.

1: When the focus of GuideConnect is on a selection list, press the Enter key and GuideConnect will announce, “interactive mode”. This means that the focus of GuideConnect is within the selection list.

2: Use the up and down arrow keys to move within the list to find the option you want. For example, if I were looking for my day of birth, I would use the arrow keys to find the number 10.

3: Press the Escape key. GuideConnect will announce, “navigation mode”. This means that the focus of GuideConnect is now outside of the selection list and you are able to use your normal navigation keys to move around the web page, for example, to move down to the next item in a form or to move down to the Place Order button.

Check boxes: Check boxes are simply boxes which you can choose to put a tick in. If you wish to put a tick in an empty check box, simply press the Enter key on it and GuideConnect will announce, “checked check box”. If the check box already has a tick in it and you wish to remove it, press the Enter key on it and GuideConnect will announce, “unchecked check box”.

Buttons: There are a couple of different button types on web pages. These are standard buttons, which GuideConnect announces as, “button” and radio buttons, which GuideConnect announces as, “radio button”.

– Standard buttons are used for items such as Search, Submit, Login, Sign in, Place order etc.

– Radio buttons are most commonly used when you are required to make a selection out of a list of options. These could be Yes or No options or selecting a rating from 1 to 5 etc. They can also be used for selecting the same sorts of options that selection lists are used for such as, selecting a colour or size.

Regardless of the button type, the way by which we use them with GuideConnect is the same. To activate a button, simply press the Enter key whilst the focus of GuideConnect is on it.

General advice.

We all hear horror stories about the dangers of using websites for shopping, internet scams and so on. Here is some general advice to help you stay safe and minimise the risks.

1: If in doubt, don’t do it. If you are on a website and you are unsure about what you are doing, feel that there might be some sort of scam in play or fear that a link has taken you to a dodgy webpage, do not remain on the webpage. Simply hold down the Escape key on the keyboard to return to the GuideConnect main menu.

2: When on a web page, listen to the information that GuideConnect is giving you and if needs be, slow down. It is better to be slower and accurate than wizzing through things and not really understanding what you are doing. Become accurate first and your speed will naturally improve as a result.

3: Do not be afraid to explore the web page before you start pressing Enter on things. The most common statement I hear from people I work with is that when they go onto websites, they just end up going round and round in circles. This is because in general, they are not really listening to the information GuideConnect is giving them and more often than not, they are simply not exploring the web page to find out what is actually on it. As discussed in this tutorial and in the Using the internet with GuideConnect tutorial, there are many hot keys to help you navigate around web pages more easily. Don’t be afraid to use them.

4: If you are particularly trigger happy with your Enter key, find yourself pressing it automatically and getting yourself in a bit of a pickle when on web pages, here’s a handy little exercise that can help you get out of that habit. Each time you move onto an item such as a link, stop and count to 3 in your head. This will stop you from hitting that Enter key and will give you time to digest the information that GuideConnect has announced for that item. You will then be better informed as to what to do next.

This document was written by James Goldsworthy of Alternate Visions Coaching. James is an accredited Dolphin GuideConnect trainer and Certified Software Specialist. He lost his sight in 2005 and has worked with the visually impaired since 2006. He started his training and coaching business Alternate Visions Coaching in January 2014.

Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.

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