The Argument for Becoming Multi Access Tech-Savvy

There is a lot of discussion out there regarding which screen reader and operating system combination is best. Each camp has their arguments, and honestly I can’t disagree, to adimently, with any of them.

The thing is, in my experience, those who are fluent with as many tools as possible are the most successful in employment. What matters more, your convictions for the tool of choice, or having a job that pays the bills, and allows you to live the quality of life you desire? I thought so! So, it is time to become multi-tech-savvy.

The Employment Environment

I am exposed to a variety of potential employment environments as an AT specialist, with an emphasis in communicating with employers and job site accommodation,. Most employers take advantage of networking to distribute information to employees. More recently a trend toward web-based applications has been observed. The web-based applications tend to be written for one web browser or another. Often the companies web app can only be displayed in Internet Explorer, or in Mozilla Firefox, and the screen must be set to a specific resolution to display the contents.

Hardware Decisions

Businesses have to make decisions regarding what hardware and software to purchase, deploy and maintain. The decision is often based on matching the technology to the environment and nature of the business. In retail business owners have multiple choices. They can purchase a Windows, or Mac based Point of Sale system, or a mobile point of sale system that utilizes either IPad, Windows tablet or Android tablet hardware. If one chooses to learn only how to use an IPad, with VoiceOver or Zoom, they may be limiting employment opportunities.

Browser Decisions

It seems unthinkable that a business could operate, in today’s market, without an internet connection. Web browsers are designed to be the gateway to the Internet. Business owners again have many choices. The decision regarding which is best for the companies type of work, need for security are likely to outweigh their desire to accommodate an individual users preference.

Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are reviewed as having superior security and privacy features. This may be one of the reasons that they are common among business information infrastructure. A web search reveals that from year to year, and version of browser to version of browser, one or the other will boast greater security or faster speeds than the other.

Access Technology Decisions

In recent experience, and simply stated, NVDA works better in Firefox than it does in Internet Explorer 11 and later. JAWS works better in Internet Explorer 11 and later than it does in Firefox. Some web pages display better in Firefox than they do in Internet Explorer and vice-versa. Toss Apple products into the mix, and you will likely see the same thing.

There are also differences between how one screen magnifier will display a page verses another, and this is compounded by the diversity in how browsers display text. Screen magnification users may have to learn to configure how the text is displayed in the browser, as well as how to enhance the text with the magnifier, to identify the optimal viewing experience.

Training Decisions

Q:Which screen reader, or magnifier, and browser combination do I need to learn?

A: As many as possible!

In Conclusion

At one point it was safe to say that Microsoft Windows was the business standard, and that if one wanted to be successful in an employment environment they needed to be proficient with Windows, Internet Explorer and a Windows-based access technology. This is no longer the case, as business owners/operators have a variety of choices available to them, and select the hardware, software and web browsers that best meet the business needs as far a security, data sharing and other factors. Great news, many of the options available to employers are accessible to consumers of access technology! Bad news, this can make it difficult to know which access technology one should learn to use effectively.

If one limits him/herself to the use of a specific access technology, employment options could become limited. Title I of the ADA uses the term “reasonable accommodation” to allow employers and employees some leeway in job site accommodation. Is it reasonable to ask an employer to risk their companies security or, potentially, rebuild their communications and data sharing infrastructure to accommodate a single users preference in access technology when access is available through other access technology tools?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

About Laine Amoureux

Laine is an assistive technology specialist in Idaho, with an emphasis in environmental accommodation and training professionals working with children and adults who experience vision loss or blindness. As a part of the culminating project in her masters program in assistive technology and human services Laine worked with class mates to create the Google Web App instructional materials at and is working on developing new content for the site.
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5 Responses to The Argument for Becoming Multi Access Tech-Savvy

  1. Joe Orozco says:

    It’s worth pointing out that schools can also play a role in better preparing students. That’s tough because I know there is often scarcity of resources. We may not be able to get all manner of hardware into kids’ hands, but at least with software, it would be great to open more training opportunities for kids to be proficient at IE and Firefox and Chrome, etc. The only real training I feel I got growing up came from summer programs at the Texas School for the Blind, but out in the mainstream school districts it was enough to find good teachers to teach Braille and O&M. My point being, it’s harder for students to accept the benefits of learning multiple technologies if they’re raised only experiencing one line of products.

  2. Jay Pellis says:

    Why do you feel that Jaws is better in IE while NVDA is better in firefox? I do agree with you since I’ve notice jaws doesn’t handle flash objects well in firefox. Curious to know what your thoughts are.

  3. There is the Hadley School as you can take online courses. The website is

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  5. Beth says:

    Tech is not the only thing going on in life. I’m sure that many people do not have time or energy to learn multiple screen access methods, owing to other responsibilities and interests. Finances can also play a part in this decision. People with multiple disabilities may have more problems learning one access product, let alone two or more. I believe most employers still stick with Windows and I haven’t heard rumblings of that changing in the foreseeable future.

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