Screen readers and top posting Vs Mutt

23 November 2009

Many years ago, my primary email client was a little console tool called mutt. It is small, powerful and has lots of nice features.

One of these features is the ability to identify quoted sections of an email.

It just takes one keypress, (capital) S by default, to skip to the next section of fresh material.

It just takes one keypress, (capital) T by default, to toggle all the quoted material into invisibility.

This is a tiny piece of free software that has had this feature for over half a decade (which is when I discovered the feature).

If Mutt can do it, why can’t screen readers and other email software manage it?

I don’t raise the issue of RFC1855 on accessibility mailing lists. The top posting that is the norm on those technical forums might make it relatively hard for me to follow a thread, and it might be a nightmare when trying to read emails with a dozen quoted signatures and disclaimers over a slow GPRS mobile Internet connection, but I know what happens.

People who depend on screen readers have problems with top posting. Why is they software so shoddy? (And can anybody who uses such software please complain to their vendors!)