FW: [tech-vi Announce List] Don’t Override Screen Reader Pronunciation

FYI Just thought this group should be aware of this post.






From: tech-vi@groups.io <tech-vi@groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2023 7:05 PM
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Subject: [tech-vi Announce List] Don’t Override Screen Reader Pronunciation


Adrian Roselli - Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at 9:37 AM

Don’t Override Screen Reader Pronunciation

April 11, 2023; 0 Comments <https://adrianroselli.com/2023/04/dont-override-screen-reader-pronunciation.html#Comments>  

When many devs, testers, and authors first start listening to content through a screen reader, they are surprised to hear dates, pricing, names, abbreviations, acronyms, etc. announced differently than they expect. With the best of intentions (or branding panic) they may seek to force screen readers to announce content as they (are told to) expect. 

But they are seeking to solve a problem that does not exist. Instead, these efforts can make interfaces and content harder to use and, in some cases, inaccessible. 

Broadly, screen reader users are already familiar <https://webaim.org/discussion/mail_message?id=34398>  with how their screen reader(s) announce these kinds of content (acronyms <https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/2020OctDec/0047.html>  and all). Mis-pronunciations are fine. These are not bugs <https://adrianroselli.com/2021/10/blaming-screen-readers-red-flag.html> . 

Do not try to override these default announcements. 


A non-exhaustive list of what plays into how a screen reader announces things: 

* Screen reader language packs (the  <https://adrianroselli.com/2015/01/on-use-of-lang-attribute.html> lang attribute guides this);
* Screen reader voices;
* Operating system voice synthesizer (TTS engine);
* Verbosity settings;
* Heuristics from the vendor;
* Custom dictionaries.

Reasons we may want to avoid overriding default pronunciation: 

* Creates auto-translation challenges;
* Messes with character and word navigation;
* Breaks find-in-page (Ctrl+F);
* No longer corresponds to the same text elsewhere on the web;
* Overrides a user’s explicit, implicit, and default preferences;
* Creates a WCAG risk if used as part of an accessible name;
* Can compromise output on Braille displays;
* Maintenance hassle for authors

I offer some problematic examples of overriding default pronunciation in my post Uncanny A11y <https://adrianroselli.com/2019/02/uncanny-a11y.html#Pronunciation> . 


If you have documented cases where there is a problem for users, you are almost certainly better off changing wording to avoid or clarify pronunciations (sometimes replacing extended characters <https://adrianroselli.com/2021/10/reference-srs-and-extended-characters.html> ). If re-writing will not satisfy your audience (or boss), then be certain to test your approach with those same users to see if it genuinely improves their experience. 

What I am talking about is not the same as CSS Speech <https://www.w3.org/TR/css-speech-1/> . CSS Speech is about designing the aural presentation analogously to the visual presentation. CSS Speech affects voices, pitch, rate, volume, stress, pauses, cues, and the like. It does not affect pronunciation. It is also not supported in browsers. Read Léonie Watson’s late 2022 post Why we need CSS Speech <https://tink.uk/why-we-need-css-speech/>  for more information (she is the spec editor too) and a follow-up about concerns <https://tink.uk/addressing-concerns-about-css-speech/> . You can get an overview in her April 2023 appearance on CSS Cafe <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ainE38uwxdw> . 


accessibility <https://adrianroselli.com/tag/accessibility> , standards <https://adrianroselli.com/tag/standards> , usability <https://adrianroselli.com/tag/usability> , UX <https://adrianroselli.com/tag/ux>  

Other Posts

Earlier post:  <https://adrianroselli.com/2023/04/exposing-field-errors.html> Exposing Field Errors 



     David Goldfield 

Assistive Technology Specialist



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Received on Wednesday, 12 April 2023 15:08:06 UTC