[Blindmath] Attention SPSS users

Godfrey, Jonathan A.J.Godfrey at massey.ac.nz
Thu Dec 12 22:36:38 UTC 2013

Hello all,

This message only has relevance to the SPSS users amongst you.

Two of us have been formally writing up the comparison of the various statistical software options that get mentioned on this list. I've installed Minitab and SPSS in order to do this. (I already had SAS and R of course.)

My co-author and I have tested these different products using a simple regression example using the software as it would be installed. Modifications to meet our needs were taken such as installation of the Java Access Bridge or changing settings to make things work better with JAWS.

If you have a chance, can you reply directly to me about the following findings.

When performing the set tasks, we found the following points to note:
\item The text data import wizard had dialogue boxes that were not read properly. The options were read,
but we couldn't tell what the options were for. This was crucial for the presence of the header row of
our data set saved in csv format.
\item The menu for creating graphs was not accessible. This is because the particular graph type to be
chosen is done using icons that look like the graph to be created. This problem is avoided if we use the
syntax window instead of the menus.
\item The dialogue for creating a simple regression model was accessible. The use of the \code{TAB} and
\code{SHIFT+TAB} keys moved the cursor around the elements; the screen reader read out the necessary
information for each element.
The \code{Paste} feature for sending the relevant code to the Syntax window means that a blind user
could be given code chunks to keep as templates for later use.
\item The help functionality did not interact well with the JAWS screen reader. The command syntax for
some examples was given which is helpful, but the command syntax guide included in the help menu is a
\pdf{} with more than 2500 pages. Searching this document is not practical for the blind user.
\item We did not find out how to create a scatter plot with the fitted line added using the command
syntax or menus within a predetermined timeframe. This illustrates the need for better quality support
documentation, including command syntax, especially if \SPSS{} is to be used by blind students.
\item We did not find out how to save an individual graph as it was created. We have saved the entire
output window twice; the first time in accessible \HTML{} with the \jpg{} graph type and a second time
so that we could save the graphs as encapsulated post-script graphics for inclusion in \LaTeX{}
documents. Automatic filename generation was used to save the individual graphs. If the authors
seriously contemplated using \SPSS{} for their own work, they would need to know how to save individual
graphs in the right format and  using self-selected filenames.

We must question the portability of \SPSS{} practices between users. While blind users will almost
certainly need to work using the text commands in the syntax window, their sighted colleagues may not be
doing so. Working environments would need to accommodate the blind user by ensuring that the working
practices always keep a log of the actions taken by the users. In this regard, \SPSS{} is not alone and
our point is not meant as criticism. If it were impossible to keep a log of the text commands that would
re-create all actions taken using the menus and dialogue boxes then we would be critical.

Thank you for your time,

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