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Accessibility in Applets

What follows is a rough outline of what I've been trying to do and
thedifficulties I've encountered:

I'm trying to make an applet accessible. I've used the Java Accessibility
API toprovide an accessibility description of each component in my interface
usingthe following method:

component.getAccessibleContext().setAccessibleName (name);

component.getAccessibleContext().setAccessibleDesc ription(description);

When a component in my interface receives focus, the
accessibilityinformation should then be provided to the screen reader or
other assistive device. So far so good.

I am running Windows XP on my desktop. I installed the Java Access Bridge
(1.03) and JAWS (4.51) and set them working. What I found is that JAWS
responded to mouse events within my applet on occasion, but almost never to
keyboard events. In other words, I could bring focus to one of my components
with the mouse and JAWS would speak the appropriate description of the
component. However, when I used keyboard shortcuts to accomplish the same
task JAWS sank into a stony silence -- occasionally, for no apparent reason,
JAWS would stir and speak the name of the component currently in focus, but
only rarely.

This set me to wondering where the breakdown was occurring. I started up one
of the utilities in the Java Access Bridge package, JavaFerret.exe. I could
instruct JavaFerret to track all "Focus" events in my applet interface and
see that the accessibility context for each component was being returned

So, my guess is that JAWS does not accurately pick up these events just yet.

I'm wondering, is there a workaround? Is there another Java event that I can
use beside "Focus" that will be picked up by JAWS? Or is JAWS just not quite
ready to handle applet interaction? Perhaps the Java Access Bridge is
receiving the event and not making it available to JAWS?


Jul 17 '05 #1
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