Internet Security and Screen Reading Software: will they ever be friends?

22/12/2016 Written by Mike Taylor (Senior Accessibility Analyst) DAC

Introduction

I start this article by asking 3 questions: 1 Is your device updated with the latest security releases from the manufacturer? 2 Do you regularly check that your internet security software is running and up-to-date? And: 3 Do you use assistive technology and if so, can you access and use your security software you purchased or downloaded from a third-party company?

As a screen reader user for over 20 years, I can honestly say that the first part of those 20 years were spent not really knowing, or fully understanding the importance of internet security. During my time in higher education though, I lost some work due to a virus; thankfully I got my work back and completed on time but lesson learned. Internet security is now part of my automatic pilot as far as technology goes, maybe even more so now that I am a Dad.

How easy is it to stay safe online?

The short answer is to install internet security software on your device, install software updates released by the manufacturer of your device; or software developer such as windows updates, OSX and iOS updates for example, and be careful about what you post online. The second and third points are easy to do with careful consideration, but what about internet security software? Another thing if you use assistive technology is also to identify if a product is accessible and usable?

My internet security software was up for renewal 2 months ago, and my computer was slowing down and crashing several times a week. Having paid for this software I decided to go elsewhere, but where to start?

After reading reviews and going for what I believe is best for my family and I, I installed a trial of another package, but to my disappointment I found that the graphical user interface was not accessible, so I was unable to interact with the software using my screen reader. Although I raised this with the company concerned I knew that a fix would not be implemented in time to stop any potential malware installing to my PC, so on to my second choice.

I was again left frustrated to repeat this scenario but the problems were exactly the same, so another email and another apology received thanking me for my query, still no security though.

My third choice was thankfully 80 percent accessible, with some buttons having unclear or no title to indicate their intended function, and viewing scan results is not easy; but is possible using advanced functions of my screen reading software as well as some patients on my part. I raised the problems with the company and although the response was the same, I am confident that I can use this package and get it to do exactly what I need (it should have been my first choice.) I paid for this software safe in the knowledge that some of my hard-earned money, and hours of research was worth it.

Conclusion

There is indeed software that can be used with my screen reader of choice, although I hope no major user interface update is made soon because it just might make it completely inaccessible. In order to stay truly safe and in control of my security, I have had to seriously invest time to try and find something which although not fully accessible, is usable for what I need. I should point out that there are packages which are fully accessible but this is down to preference on my part, and I wanted something with ‘bells and whistles’, but I had to make a trade-off to a degree.

To find out more about staying safe online, visit the Get Safe Online Website (external link)