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

From: Geoff Deering <geoff@deering.id.au>
Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2006 20:55:47 +1100
Message-ID: <43C23323.2000101@deering.id.au>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

David Woolley wrote:

>>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.)
>
>  
>

The way I read the specifications is that both SPAN and DIV elements are 
generic container elements that carry no structural meaning in 
themselves, and only convey information via attributes and associated 
styles.  I would therefore assume that if screen readers are breaking 
words that have SPAN elements within them that they have not correctly 
implemented the guidelines.  Please correct me if I am wrong.

-----------------
Geoff Deering
Received on Monday, 9 January 2006 09:56:01 GMT

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