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

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 09:20:00 -0500
To: "'Franseth, Greg'" <Franseth@uky.edu>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <07b601c615f0$f5554ba0$6501a8c0@bosshog>

Franseth, Greg wrote:
> * We have an online style manual which uses strikeout and caps to
> emphasize correct spellings of commonly misspelled words. 

How do you convey this to non-visual users?

> * We often capitalize or change font on UK (for University of
> Kentucky) when it appears mid-word because we're so clever :-P 

How do you convey this to non-visual users?

> * We have a friendly competition with a fellow University.  The
> competition name is colored half in blue and half in red as a result. 

How do you convey this to non-visual users?

> * We have a forum on Appalachia which underlines the word Appalachian
> or a shortening thereof in its topics (example, lachian would be
> underlined in a discussion of the Afrilachian poets)  

How do you convey this to non-visual users?

> Obviously these are all presentational 

Are they?  It would seem to me that in each of the above instances, you
are performing this "visual styling" for a very real and specific reason
that transcends simple "decoration", with perhaps the change of font on
the UK (which I would hope is also being coupled with the <acronym> or
<abbr> constructs, right?  <abbr title="University of Kentucky"
class="university">UK</abbr>) being the most minimal.

> and the actual change is
> handled through CSS, but they require the span tag to be placed
> mid-word and, if this causes readers to break up the word, is a
> problem.  I'm not sure how we would want this to be handled for
> accessibility.  The second and third cases are strictly visual.  The
> last case is somewhat marginal, but it does help indicate the
> connection, though it can be discerned from the words.  The first
> case, however, would require a rewrite. 

Greg, I would suggest that all of the above need a re-think.  You are
using the visual stylings for a reason - the actual reason may change
from point to point, but the bottom line is that you are providing
additional information to the end user that goes beyond the simple text
being styled - correct spellings vs. incorrect spellings, to highlight a
friendly rivalry, or to link "latian" to various compound words.  I
would further suggest that you determine the *why*, and provide some
form of alternative for non GUI user agents - be they text only browsers
or screen reading technologies.  That the <span> in the middle of a word
breaks up that word for screen readers is almost secondary here,
although it seems to also impact on your final product as well - just
one *more* reason to re-think things fundamentally.


John Foliot  foliot@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
Phone: 1-613-482-7053  
Received on Tuesday, 10 January 2006 14:20:17 UTC

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