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Re: Punctuation in lists

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 19:49:48 -0500
Message-Id: <200004182347.TAA815649@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: pjenkins@us.ibm.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
As Phill pointed out, the punctuation is not ungrammatical, it is
un-stylistic.  Had the same grammar of a list of items been presented in
inline style instead of in point format, the punctuation would have been
the default style because the rules of grammar apply in a way that they are
typically waived in point form.

Another angle on this issue is the availability in auditory styling
properties of a pause after each list item as a matter of style, which is
pretty much the right classification for this behavior.  Audio does an
implicit convert to inline style as Phill explained, so the audio
punctuation in the form of pauses is just good style.  Now if people were
only implementing the full CSS2...


At 03:12 PM 2000-04-18 -0500, pjenkins@us.ibm.com wrote:
>Bruce wrote:
>>I have been in the habit of ending list items with punctuation.
>>Is this practice still necessary?  Is it advisable?
>Steven wrote:
>>If I understand the issue, it is however
>>more of a speech synthesizer issue rather than a screen reader >issue,
>although both can affect how punctuation is pronounced and >the associated
>pause behavior.
>You are correct that both the screen reader and the synthesizer affect how
>lists are pronounced, but synthesizers speak what they are told.  One needs
>to understand the "string of characters" that are sent to the synthesizer
>by the screen reader.  For example:
>List 1:
>     First item
>     Second item
>     Third item
>Next paragraph ...
>Most screen readers and self-voicing browsers will send the entire string
>of characters to the synthesizer and NOT add any punctuation that is not
>there.  Bullets in front of the list items are not punctuation in the
>synthesizer sense, so the above example would be spoken without any pauses
>as in the following:
>List 1: First item Second item Third item Next paragraph ...
>Since, in my opinion, lists are just reformatted sentences with commas, it
>would be appropriate for the screen reader and self voicing browser to
>attach a comma or semi colon to the end of each list item before sending
>the string of characters to the synthesizer - but most do NOT currently.
>For example.  List 1: First item; Second item; Third item.  Next paragraph
>So, I also have a habit of adding the punctuation my self, but in invisible
>ink, white text on white background, so users of text browser might "see"
>the punctuation, the common user of the graphical browser would NOT  "see"
>the punctuation.  The screen reader and self-voicing browser user would
>hear the pause after each list item, as it should be.  Once the screen
>readers and self-voicing browsers automatically add the punctuation for
>better sounding speech, I will remove the explicit invisible punctuation.
>By the way, the same problem occurs after headings.  When reading in
>"automatic or read on" mode, the punctuation is not there unless added by
>the screen reader or self voicing browser.  Those screen readers and
>voicing browsers that parse the HTML, should be able to more easily add the
>appropriate punctuation.  Of course when reading just the heading, or
>navigating the list, the self-voicing browsers, such as IBM Home Page
>Reader, correctly pause and or stop at the end of each heading or list
>This is a requirement for the assistive technology vendors - not for the
>authors of web pages to fix.  In my opinion, fixing the relative few
>assistive technologies would be a lot more cost effective than requesting
>billions of web sites to add grammatically incorrect punctuation to the end
>of the lists.
>Phill Jenkins
Received on Tuesday, 18 April 2000 19:46:23 UTC

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