W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 2016

Re: WCAG and Diacritical Markings

From: Elizabeth Pyatt <ejp10@psu.edu>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2016 09:36:22 -0400
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-Id: <4B89CD44-5685-4E44-A279-50F618DD138C@psu.edu>
To: Ryan McCalla <rmccalla@hawaii.edu>
This is a tough one. 

You’re correct that most U.S. screen readers will not be able to pronounce this correctly by default. But I also don’t want to compromise foreign language content too much because of poor screen reader support. On the other hand, sometimes minor compromise is necessary until technology can improve.

The language tagging is good practice, but would not be effective unless the individual is able to install a Hawaiian text to speech (TTS) pronunciation engine on the screen reader.

If you were working with an individual, you could have that person install a symbol file that would at least read ‘ as “Okina” (vs. “’Okina”). This would result in reading Hawai’i  as "Hawai Okina i”.  This is still less than perfect.

A more global solution would be to use ARIA to fudge the pronunciation. That would entail converting all instances of Hawai’i to a pseudo image with an Anglicized ALT text <span role=“img” aria-label=“Hawaii”> Hawai’i</span>

A third solution is to ask actual JAWS users how well they are able to handle the current code.  JAWS and other screen readers fail even on many English abbreviations (e.g. reading PA as “pah” instead of “P.A” or “NaCL” as “knackle” instead of “sodium chloride") and unfortunately blind users have learned to adjust to this.  One practice I try to use is to define the first instance of an abbreviation (e.g. "PSU (Penn State University)”). You could do something similar with Hawai’i a and use CSS to hide the Anglicized version of “Hawaii”.

Hope some of these are useful.


> On Aug 11, 2016, at 6:21 PM, Ryan McCalla <rmccalla@hawaii.edu> wrote:
> Aloha,
> Sorry if you’re seeing this message twice. Not sure if my first message was sent.
> My name is Ryan and I am the Accessibility Specialist for the IT department at the University of Hawaiʻi. We are in a unique situation and I'm hoping someone on this list can give us a little guidance. 
> All of our current sites and pages use correct Hawaiian spelling of words and names with their correct diacritical markings. However, JAWS and NVDA do not handle these special markings well. JAWS is the worst and sometimes reads "Hawaiʻi" as "Hawai?i". The issue is that we want to be WCAG compliant, but at the same time we want to recognize the Hawaiian language and culture with the correct spelling and correct diacritical marks for Hawaiian words and names. If we use diacritical marks, screen readers do not handle/read them properly. If we don't use the proper spelling, we run the risk of upsetting the native culture.
> Is there anything that we can do to ensure that Hawaiian words/names get spoken correctly by screen readers? Does accessibility trump culture and language? If we continue to use diacritical markings (and assuming we have no other issues), would we still meet WCAG compliance, even though screen readers stumble through the page?
> More info on Hawaiian Diacritics at http://www.hawaii.edu/site/info/diacritics.php.
> Mahalo,
> Ryan McCalla
> ITS Staff
> University of Hawaiʻi

Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Teaching and Learning with Technology
Penn State University
ejp10@psu.edu, (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

3A Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802
Received on Friday, 12 August 2016 13:36:49 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Friday, 12 August 2016 13:36:50 UTC