Screen readers: Common choices and configurations

Screen readers are software programs that run on computers, phones, and other digital platforms, to give those who have difficulty reading printed text, or interpreting icons, access to the device. If you’re interested in learning more about screen readers in general, check out this article that explains more on how screen readers work.  

While people who are completely blind are the primary users of screen readers, they are also used by those with dyslexia, people with low vision who may find reading text for long periods of time difficult, or by anyone who can’t look at a screen for whatever reason (perhaps, for example, because they are driving).  

Illustration of brunette woman wearing a yellow t-shirt.

Amber Knabl, Customer Success @ Fable

“When engaging with screen reader users on Fable, these preferences are great considerations to keep in mind.”

In 2019, WebAIM conducted a survey with over 1000 screen reader users worldwide to collect information in terms of demographics and preferences around primary screen reader type, browser, and operating system. Please note that this study was entirely voluntary.

Screen reader types used

Screen reader type % of respondents 
NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access)  40.6%
JAWS (Job Access With Speech) 40.1%
VoiceOver 12.9%
Other 6.4%

Source: WebAIM 

Screen reader/browser configurations used

Screen reader & browser % of respondents
JAWS with Chrome 21.4%
NVDA with Firefox 19.6%
NVDA with Chrome 18.0%
JAWS with Internet Explorer 11.5%
VoiceOver with Safari 9.1%
JAWS with Firefox 5.9%
VoiceOver with Chrome 3.0%
NVDA with Internet Explorer 1.2%
Other combinations 10.4%

Source: WebAIM

Operating systems used by screen reader users

Operating System % of Respondents
Windows 72.1%
iOS 13.5%
Apple 9.5%
Android 3.8%
Linux 1.1%
Other .1%

Source: WebAIM

When engaging with screen reader users on Fable, whether through Compatibility Tests or User Interviews, these preferences are great considerations to keep in mind.

There are a lot of factors that go into how a screen reader user will decide on the screen reader and synthesizer that they’ll use. This article on the voice behind screen readers takes a closer look at some of these factors. 

If you’re interested in viewing the full survey conducted by WebAIM visit: