Ajax and Accessability

sitepoint has an excellent posting on Ajax and Screenreaders: When Can It Work? With more and more sites resorting to Ajax-y interfaces (sometimes for questionable, buzzword compliance reasons), I have often wondered what the effect on the usability of these site is for those users who require screen readers to surf the web. In summary the author states:

Let’s face it, a great many AJAX applications (dare I say, “most”?) use this approach for its own sake, and don’t really benefit from it all — they could just as well use traditional POST and response.

I would even go a step further to call for a fundamental re-assessment of our priorities here. What we’re talking about is making dynamic client interfaces work effectively in screen readers, but maybe that was never the point. Isn’t the real point to make the applications themselves work effectively in screen readers?

Some may read this article and think, ‘meh, why should I care?’. I think that you should because a growing part of Internet users are (or are becoming) ‘senior citizens’ who may need a screen reader at some point. Why lock out a large part of your potential audience/market by succumbing to the need to chase the latest buzz? Besides, isn’t this the same sort of lesson in exclusivity that the ignorant ‘IE only’ sites are continuing to learn to this day?

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