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Re: Lang attribute and "old" latin


From: Patrick Burke
Date: Apr 24, 2008 7:40PM

Hi John,

Some comments added below.
At 05:04 PM 4/24/2008, John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program
>As far as I know, current screen reading technology only supports a limited
>number of languages.
>I am in the process of reviewing a number of web documents that feature, in
>part, a fair bit of "old Latin" (circa 13th century - it's a cool academic
>project). At any rate, W3C guidance states "Clearly identify changes in the
>natural language of a document's text and any text equivalents (e.g.,
>captions)." *AND* the ISO code for Latin is either "LA" (ISO 639-1) or "LAT"
>(ISO 639-2) so clearly this *CAN* be done.
>As well, wikipedia suggests that "Screen readers without Unicode support
>will read a character outside Latin-1 as a question mark,

I have certainly encountered this, even with Jaws 9.

>and even in the
>latest version of JAWS, the most popular screen reader, Unicode characters
>are very difficult to read." (Is this true, I was not aware of this.

I think it depends whether the speech synthesizer has a mapping for the
sound of the symbol in question. Some Hebrew/Arabic/Farsi letters will be
spoken individually (as the letter name), while some aren't spoken at all.

Jaws officially added Unicode support in V7. At that point several
languages became readable with a Braille display (Russian & Greek), though
speech output doesn't do much with them. (Some symbols still don't come
through in the braille rendering.)

> The document often uses þ throughout this old Latin text - is
> this going
>to be an issue?)
Thorn is understood & spoken even by Jaws 4.51. However, just the letter
name is spoken (þing = "thorning", not "thing").

>The question is, is there any real advantage gained by adding this
>information (lang="lat") to the content? It is/would be a huge undertaking,
>and if *not* done is pedantically/dogmatically wrong (fails WCAG P1 4.1),
>however I am at a loss to explain any real value in doing it to the client
>as at the end of the day I cannot myself find a "real justification" that
>would improve the accessibility of the document.

If nothing else, it would help *greatly* if a braille translation had to be
done. If the text switches back and forth from Latin to (Modern) English,
it would be a huge timesaver to search-&-replace for the language code
changes. (The braille translation could be done all in Grade I, but then
the English would seem clunky to proficient braille readers, imho.)

Just my 2 denarii,


>Thoughts, arguments (either side) and other support gratefully accepted.