Article on Screen Reader Reading Speeds
Mike & Barbara In Arcadia <mb69mach1@...>
I found the information below interesting & thought the list might as well,
since this topic was recently discussed.
This just came across my desk as things do from time to time and it's
something that a few of you might just find interesting as I did after
Listening Speeds Approximation with Window-Eyes and JAWS Screen Reader
Practice Text Documents
Listening Speeds Approximation with Window-Eyes and JAWS
In order to determine an approximate words-per-minute test for a screen
reader, we used this process:
1. The screen reader's speed was set to a chosen percentage.
2. A long document was selected of sufficient length for the "Read All"
command to be invoked without running out of text in a two-minute reading
3. A timer was set for two minutes.
4. The timer and the "Read All" command were invoked at the same time.
5. The "Read All" command was stopped when the timer expired.
6. The rest of the document was selected and deleted.
7. The Microsoft Word "Word Count" command was invoked.
8. The number of characters without spaces were found.
9. This number was placed into Windows Calculator.
10. The number was divided by 5 to obtain an approximate average length of
five characters. (Five characters is the average word length in American
11. The result of this was divided by two to obtain average words per
12. The deleted text was restored and the process repeated for another speed
Known factors which influence speed outcomes:
1. By default, the screen reader pauses for a fraction of a second at
sentence punctuation marks, such as commas and periods, in order to give a
better reading experience. This would tend to give a slightly slower average
speed for each percentage.
2. In calculating the number of characters, punctuation of all kinds,
including quotation marks, dashes, and sentence punctuation and other
printable characters were included (spaces were excluded). This would tend
to give a higher character count, and therefore, a higher average speed.
Though this has not been tested, the assumption is that the two variables
tend to cancel out one another.
3. Different versions of the Eloquence synthesizer have yielded different
results. Both Window-Eyes and JAWS have included a proprietary version of
Eloquence within their screen reader in recent releases. These versions have
yielded higher rates from the nonproprietary versions.
4. Probably related to the previous point, we found that current versions
of these two screen readers produced markedly different reading rates at the
The test was performed for Window-Eyes 7 and JAWS 11 with their own
proprietary version of Eloquence.
NVDA: Non-Visual Desktop Access
Hope you enjoyed this article. Take care.
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