It seems that the popular screen reader (software which translates text on the computer screen into spoken audio for the blind) JAWS has problems with applications produced in Delphi when they are manifested for Windows XP. I don’t know if the problem is limited only to Delphi applications, though. What I do know is that we tested the latest version of JAWS with a do-nothing application which simply displays a single, standard, text edit control, and a standard label which specifies the text editor as its FocusControl. When we produce the application without an XP manifest, JAWS reads the caption correctly when the editor is focused. When we add an XP manifest, JAWS no longer reads the caption.
So if accessibility for the blind is important for your software, it would probably be a good idea to download the free demo version of JAWS and test your software. If it doesn’t work, try making the manifest optional.
One would think that the makers of JAWS would want software producers to test their products with JAWS. But according to a salesperson for Freedom Scientific, there is no developer program for the tool. JAWS is moderately expensive — about $900 — but this is not a barrier for us. What we would really like is to have access to a defect reporting system for JAWS and early access to future versions of the software.