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From: Peter Weil
Date: Wed, Apr 30 2008 1:10PM
Subject: ordinal numbers
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I'm wondering how screen readers handle ordinal numbers that are not
spelled out; e.g.,

107th Congress
323rd Fighter Wing
59th Street

Are screen readers smart enough to recognize these as ordinals and
pronounce them as such? Or should web authors treat these as
abbreviations? Example:

<abbr title="fifty ninth">59th</abbr> Street

Otherwise, I would imagine that screen readers' pronunciation of these
numbers is going to sound pretty ugly (not that the <abbr> tag + title
necessarily solves the accessibility problem)

I suppose it would be ideal to spell these terms out, but the Chicago
Manual of Style (and others, I suspect) call for spelling out ordinal
numerals of only one hundred or less. And editors (the ones that send
us the copy) don't always don't spell these out, either.

How do others treat these elements in html?

--
Peter Weil, Web Developer
University Communications
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Phone: 608-262-6538
Email: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =



From: Moore, Michael
Date: Wed, Apr 30 2008 1:30PM
Subject: Re: ordinal numbers
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Peter Weil
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 2:06 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] ordinal numbers

I'm wondering how screen readers handle ordinal numbers that are not
spelled out; e.g.,

107th Congress
323rd Fighter Wing
59th Street

Are screen readers smart enough to recognize these as ordinals and
pronounce them as such?

Peter,

I just tested with JAWS 6 and JAWS 9 and there was no problem with JAWS
handling these numbers. The problems that I see with numbers and
pronunciation by JAWS and WindowEyes more often are with roman numerals
for instance the number 6, VI is pronounced by the screen reader as
"vye" and what is even more confusing is that VI is also an acronym for
visually impaired.

The use of the abbreviation tag for either ordinal numbers or roman
numerals would be totally inappropriate, however you could use the
acronym element for VI when using that character combination to
represent the term visually impaired.

In my opinion far too much emphasis is placed upon the way that screen
readers pronounce things. This is at most a minor "accessibility" issue
for most users of screen reader technologies. If I am confused by the
way that my screen reader pronounces something I have the option of
having the screen reader spell it to me, or I can manually move through
it one character at a time. However when electronic documents lack
heading structure, forms are missing labels or the reading order is out
of synch these are major barriers to access, that are much more
cumbersome to attempt to overcome.

Mike

From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Wed, Apr 30 2008 2:00PM
Subject: Re: ordinal numbers
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Peter Weil wrote:

> I'm wondering how screen readers handle ordinal numbers that are not
> spelled out;

It depends, but there's not much you can do about it, and it's not
really such a big issue, compared with all the other problems.

> Or should web authors treat these as
> abbreviations? Example:
>
> <abbr title="fifty ninth">59th</abbr> Street

No, because
a) they are not abbreviations but just different notations
b) <abbr> is poorly supported and often causes more harm than help
(e.g., causes mysterious dotted underline to confuse users)
c) the meaning of title="..." is just 'advisory title', and it is used
in varying ways, so there's little point in believing that it means how
the content should be spelled out.

> I suppose it would be ideal to spell these terms out, but the Chicago
> Manual of Style (and others, I suspect) call for spelling out ordinal
> numerals of only one hundred or less.

In fact, by "easy language" recommendations, all numbers should be
written using digits, since they are considered as more comprehensible
to people with cognitive difficulties. This might be extremistic, and
it's not suitable for texts for a general audience, but there's a point
in the idea.

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

From: Andy Mabbett
Date: Wed, Apr 30 2008 3:40PM
Subject: Re: ordinal numbers
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In message <02ea01c8aafc$04149f40$0500000a@DOCENDO>, Jukka K. Korpela
< = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > writes

>> Or should web authors treat these as
>> abbreviations? Example:
>>
>> <abbr title="fifty ninth">59th</abbr> Street
>
>No, because
>a) they are not abbreviations but just different notations

My dictionary gives abbreviation as "A shortened form of a word or
phrase".

"59th" is a short form of "fifty ninth", is it not?

(Though I'd argue that it should, in any case, be "fifty-ninth", with a
hyphen.)

--
Andy Mabbett
Says "NO! to compulsory UK ID Cards": <http://www.no2id.net/>;
and: "Free Our Data": <http://www.freeourdata.org.uk>;
(both also on Facebook)

From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Wed, Apr 30 2008 4:40PM
Subject: Re: ordinal numbers
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Andy Mabbett wrote:

> My dictionary gives abbreviation as "A shortened form of a word or
> phrase".

Agreed.

> "59th" is a short form of "fifty ninth", is it not?

No, it isn't. Just being shorter does not make it a shortened form or
short form.

Is "sata" a short form of "hundred"? It is shorter, is it not?

Being an abbreviation means that you have omitted something to make an
expression shorter. In effect, you leave out some characters. You might
add some punctuation to indicate it as an abbreviation, or you might
change lowercase to uppercase, but you don't just use something else.

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

From: Viable Design
Date: Wed, Apr 30 2008 4:50PM
Subject: Re: ordinal numbers
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The fact is, however, that most sources I've seen (as an English teacher by
non-summer weekday) do, in fact, refer to ordinal numbers using numerals as
abbreviated forms of the non-numeral ordinal numbers.

Jo Hawke
http://www.viabledesign.com


On Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 6:29 PM, Jukka K. Korpela < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
wrote:

> Andy Mabbett wrote:
>
> > My dictionary gives abbreviation as "A shortened form of a word or
> > phrase".
>
> Agreed.
>
> > "59th" is a short form of "fifty ninth", is it not?
>
> No, it isn't. Just being shorter does not make it a shortened form or
> short form.
>
> Is "sata" a short form of "hundred"? It is shorter, is it not?
>
> Being an abbreviation means that you have omitted something to make an
> expression shorter. In effect, you leave out some characters. You might
> add some punctuation to indicate it as an abbreviation, or you might
> change lowercase to uppercase, but you don't just use something else.
>
> Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
> http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ <http://www.cs.tut.fi/%7Ejkorpela/>;
>
>