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Re: <span> within a word any issue for screen readers?

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 08:01:01 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200601090801.k09811q03734@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> I'm testing a site which occasionally has span tags around individual
** letters in words in the content, and am wondering if this would have
** any adverse effect for a screen reader - anyone know?

It can cause problems for visual browsers, as some character sequences,
in some languages (including English with high quality typography) have
to be treated as a whole, as the glyph sequence doesn't have a one
to one relationship with the character sequence.

That would certainly have an impact on audio styling of English text,
although I believe this is generally unsupported in popular assitive
technology products.

In my view, style free inline elements ought to be ignored by assistive
technlogy (they will be ignored by pure screen readers, as they won't 
affect the visual rendering), so one should pander to user agent failings
as little as possible, to encourage user agents to be fixed.  Best practice
for visual styling is, I believe, to adjust the actual styling boundary
to be the nearest typographically sensible position, in languages where
the glyph/character correlation is poor.  (For English ligatures, honouring
the boundary by not generating a ligature may well be the best compromise.)
Received on Monday, 9 January 2006 08:15:49 UTC

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