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RE: Survey: Emoticons for screen readers

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 10:57:04 -0500
Message-ID: <B3DC65CD2AA7EF449E554548C6FE11111356EC@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Jens Meiert" <jens.meiert@erde3.com>, "David MacDonald" <befree@magma.ca>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

It's true that emoticons are all sorts of things-- annoying, trivial,
and so forth.  It's also true that they're quite common, at least in the
US, and they can be quite confusing when a screen reader reports them as
(for example) "colon dash right paren."  Microsoft Word automatically
converts this particular string into a smiley-face graphic.  JAWS 4.51
helpfully reports this as "wingdings 63."

Emoticons are less common on static Web resources, but are likely to
appear in Web-based message forums and chatrooms (some of which actually
provide buttons that allow users to insert emoticons into their

As a teacher of writing, I would of course prefer to help my students
learn to express their emotions in deathless prose.  As someone who at
least occasionally lives on this planet, however, I suspect I'm losing


"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
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1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
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email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


-----Original Message-----
From: Jens Meiert [mailto:jens.meiert@erde3.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 10:46 am
To: David MacDonald
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Re: Survey: Emoticons for screen readers

First of all -- what's the purpose of this survey? For me this nearly
sounds like asking car drivers if stickers or colored fog lamps are nice
gimmicks for their cars -- that sounds really exciting, but it ain't
important, and of course not in relation to car driving (and

In general, emoticons are a) a matter of taste, and b) dubious and
nonserious, above all related to business sites and correspondence (here
in Germany it's very nonprofessional, I don't know how this is handled
in US). So I can only question this survey again.

Some feedback:

> 1.	Do emoticons you have any trouble understanding emoticons such
> :-) and ;-)     ?

No. Note: One problem might be a different syntax -- so :) and :-) are
equivalent, ;) and ;-), too. There are several other examples.

> 2.	Do they bother you? 


> 3.	Do you have trouble with emoticons in tools such as MS Messenger
> various Bloggers which are graphical?


> 4.	Do you have any other comments on emoticons.  How would you like
> see them treated in TECH 2.0?

See above. I don't like them treated all, either don't bring them up, or
say 'Use at own risk, because not everybody knows, understands or likes
them, and they might be unserious'.


Jens Meiert
Interface Architect

Received on Wednesday, 27 August 2003 11:57:18 UTC

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