W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > August 2007

Re: Screen-reader behaviour

From: Philip Taylor (Webmaster) <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 12:39:24 +0100
Message-ID: <46D7FDEC.50306@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: Ben 'Cerbera' Millard <cerbera@projectcerbera.com>
CC: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>

Ben 'Cerbera' Millard wrote:

 > If italicising this text is sufficient for sighted users to tell they
 > are "special" terms, why would unsighted users need anything extra?

I don't know : perhaps they (or "some of they") wouldn't.  But
the mondegreen [1] is specifically an aural phenomenon, and there
is (AFAIK) no visual equivalent, at least for non-dyslexic readers.

 > ATs could read <i> in a slightly different voice. Or just read it normally
 > and let the surrounding context make clear it's a special term, similar
 > to what a sighted user of a monochrome display would experience.

Yes, they could.  But the universe of renderings available to
screen renderers is considerably richer than that available
to aural renderers, so whilst I might (say) have an introductory
gloss that says "All ship names appear in blue italics, foreign
words and phrases in grey italics, Linnaean binomials in red
italics and book titles in black italics", I would be hard pressed
to have a similar introduction to the aural version, and that
task would become ever harder as the number of distinct italicised
entities increased.


 > I think we should gather feedback from users over the coming years to
 > see wheat the real problems are. My suspicion is that super-fine
 > granularity of markup is an issue of theoretical purity and does not
 > affect real users in day-to-day browsing. But that is just a suspicion.

You speak of "theoretical purity" as if it has negative connotations,
and there I do not agree : we r\^ole -- it is a HyperText /Markup/
Language, and what I am seeking to suggest is that there needs to be
a way to express subtleties /in the markup/; I am not for one minute
suggesting that every author (or every document) would need to make
use of this, but if we provide the mechanism, then it is there for
others to exploit as they see fit or find necesssary.

To summarise : the differentiation between a book title, a loan word,
the name of a ship and a Linnaean binomial /may/ be important in
some documents, and for those documents, there needs to be a means
to express the distinction in HTML.  This is true no matter at
which medium the document is targetted : visual, aural, braille,
or any other.  However, the aural medium has associated difficulties [1]
for which no equivalent exists in the visual medium, and it was
therefore with aural clients specifically in mind that I raised the
issue on this occasion.

[1] A "mondegreen" is a mis-hearing, usually resulting in comic
     effect, and takes its name from Sylvia Wright's mis-hearing
     a line from the folk song /The Bonny Earl of Moray/; the
     original reads :

	> They hae slain the Earl of Moray,
	> And laid him on the green

     whilst Sylvia Wright heard, and subsequently described in
     an essay entitled /The Death of Lady Mondegreen/ published
     in Harper's Magazine in November, 1954:

	> They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
	> And Lady Mondegreen."

     As a child, I experienced exactly the same problem when
     hearing other children sing "Who would truvalesy" at
     morning prayers, and I asked my parents what the verb
     "to truvalesy" meant; they had no idea, but when I sang
     it to them they realised that what I /should/ have heard
     was "Who would true valour see" (from /He who would valiant
     be/, Bunyam, 1684).
Received on Friday, 31 August 2007 11:39:44 UTC

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