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JWAS and special characters pronunciation


From: Druckman,Geri
Date: Jan 29, 2014 11:57AM

Hi Sarah,

First my apologies it took about 3 weeks to test this and actually get
back with you (and all$B!D(B).

The solution you suggested works very well when having screen reader users
in mind. Though we need to remember, that a website is meant to serve all
users, and in this case non-screen reader users that may have styling
disabled, or use an alternative styling sheet. Those users will see "p110$B&A(B
alpha", whereas using the <abbr> tag when styling is disabled, all it will
do is add an underline to the abbreviated word (that line we tried to hide
with styling), but will not affect the content.

Also, in general, a more elegant solution to hide content from browsers
but not A.T., and not just pushing it off the screen, comes from the Yahoo
accessibility team:


.visually-hidden {
position: absolute !important;
clip: rect(1px 1px 1px 1px); /* IE6, IE7 */
clip: rect(1px, 1px, 1px, 1px);
padding:0 !important;
border:0 !important;
height: 1px !important;
width: 1px !important;
overflow: hidden;

Geri Druckman

Web Development Specialist - Accessibility
Department of Internet Services
MD Anderson Cancer Center
T 713-792-6293 | F 713-745-8134

On 1/3/14 6:11 AM, " <EMAIL REMOVED> "
< <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

>The <abbr> with title attribute will work, however as someone mentioned
>it's not the default behavior of JAWS and users have to change their
>Geri mentioned that the freedom scientific should make this checked by
>default(read out title) in JAWS; if this had checked then I hope it will
>read the link text and the title text too(which will frustrates the user;
>may be because of this reason freedom scientific made this option off by
>default). Further in some CMS, the title text will be the same as the
>link text(which will added automatically) and in this case screen reader
>will pronounce twice the same text.
>Note: NVDA by default pronounce "link text" and the "title attribute"
>Apart from the <abbr> and other comment floating over here, you can do
>this too....
><div> p110<span aria-hidden="true">&alpha;</span> <span
>style="position:absolute; left:-1000px; top;auto">alpha</span> </div>
>Here visually it will be p110$B&A(B, however " $B&A(B " will be hidden for screen
>reader users and the off-screen text "alpha" will be pronounced; which is
>the combination of ARIA & old traditional off-screen technique. The
>limitation here is the user agents(browser and screen reader) should
>support ARIA :)
>I haven't tested the above approach as I don't have access to screen
>readers at work. However I hope this will work or someone here can
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Chagnon | PubCom [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
>Sent: Friday, January 03, 2014 12:32 AM
>To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
>Subject: Re: [WebAIM] JWAS and special characters pronunciation
>Geri wrote: "Sadly this will not work in anything else but web pages, but
>it's a start."
>Thanks, Geri. Great workaround for HTML.
>Maybe 2014 can become the year we focus on making documents accessible?
>So much vital information and content is hidden from the AT community,
>and MS Office and InDesign lack many tools to do the job right.
>I keep wondering when the accessibility lawsuits will start.
>-Bevi Chagnon
>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
>www.PubCom.com - Trainers, Consultants, Designers, Developers.
>Print, Web, Acrobat, XML, eBooks, and U.S. Federal Section 508
>New Sec. 508 Workshop & EPUBs Tour in 2013 - www.Workshop.Pubcom.com
>-----Original Message-----
>[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Druckman,Geri
>Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2014 1:02 PM
>To: WebAIM Discussion List
>Subject: Re: [WebAIM] JWAS and special characters pronunciation
>So after testing with a dash, and hidden text space (using display: none;
>for a hidden space/gap still read in JAWS as "pe one hundred ten ah"),
>which neither worked the way I wanted it, I tried also Sarah's suggestion
>using abbreviation, and <abbr title="p110 &alpha;">p110&alpha;</abbr>
>(note the space in the abbreviation title attribute) worked perfectly!
>Thank you Sarah for that! And it's also searchable in the proper string
>There's minor catch, reading abbreviations is not enabled by default in
>JAWS. Without enabling it JAWS ignores the existence of the <abbr> tag.
>Maybe Freedom Scientific should make it a default checked option, or is
>there a specific reason why it is unchecked by default?.
>Now all that said, as Murphy's law says "If you have 10 problems, and you
>find a solution for each one of those 10 problems, the 10th solution will
>generate an 11th problem". This solution works well in Internet Explorer
>where the <abbr> tag is not showing as underlined to none A.T. users
>(Chorme doesn't show it, and JAWS doesn't "see" in Chrome either, but
>then again, JAWS is optimized for Internet Explorer). In FireFox on the
>other hand, it's a different story, first JAWS does not read the <abbr>
>tag when using FireFox, and second FireFox will abbreviations as
>underlined, since <abbr> is using the title attribute, which makes this
>solution, for sighted FireFox users, look awkward.
>So what is the lesser "evil"? A solution that works in one particular
>browser for A.T. users, but will make a page look awkwardly "peppered"
>with underlined, meaningless words to sighted users in a different
>After doing some googling (Thank you Larry and Sergey, what would I have
>done without you guys?!), here's is what I came up with, which works
>nicely in Internet Explorer, and doesn't make it look ugly in FireFox.
>Sadly this will not work in anything else but web pages, but it's a start.
>In the HTML I used:
> <abbr title="p110 &alpha;">p110&alpha;</abbr>
>Then to remove the line decoration (Hint: it's NOT {text-decoration:
>none;}), I added in the CSS:
> abbr[title] {border-bottom-width: 0;}
>Eureka! It works!
>Thank you all for your valuable input!
>Geri Druckman
>Web Development Specialist - Accessibility Department of Internet
>Services MD Anderson Cancer Center T 713-792-6293 | F 713-745-8134
>On 1/2/14 9:40 AM, "Bourne, Sarah (ITD)" < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
>>Imagine I were trying to search for "p110$B&A(B" (with or without AT.) Any
>>workaround for screenreaders that breaks that string into separate
>>"words" could break its findability by search. For instance, inserting
>>even a very, teeny, tiny space would make it "p110" and "$B&A(B" to a search
>>engine. I would lean towards including instructions for screen reader
>>users, such as recommendations for configuring the dictionary and
>>suggesting reading non-common words or numbers character-by-character
>>when accuracy is essential.
>>It might stretch the definition of "abbreviation," but perhaps you
>>could use ABBR, and have the TITLE spell out the correct pronunciation?
>>For instance, <abbr title="p 100 alpha"> p110$B&A(B </abbr>
>>(I have no idea how search engines handle multiple Unicode names and
>>other encodings for characters that appear to be the same. That makes
>>my head to hurt to think of!)
>>Sarah E. Bourne
>>Director of Assistive Technology &
>>Mass.Gov Chief Technology Strategist
>>Information Technology Division
>>Commonwealth of Massachusetts
>>1 Ashburton Pl. rm 1601 Boston MA 02108
>>>>>>messages to <EMAIL REMOVED>
>>>messages to <EMAIL REMOVED>
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