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RE: Displaying Braille online

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 17:51:49 -0500
To: "'Marjolein Katsma'" <iamback4now@yahoo.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00e001c5ec92$cec90cb0$6601a8c0@bosshog>

Marjolein Katsma wrote:
> - But when I want to [s]how the same text in "simulated braille" text
> have some problems: The user may or may not have a Braille font on
> their machine (though I could explain where to get one); more
> importantly I found many Braille fonts are inconsistent with respect
> to at what code points the non-letter Braille symbols occur, in other
> words, actual  Braille characters may be different across fonts for
> the same code points. 

Braille is a tactile experience, so replicating it any non-tactile
medium is going to be imperfect.  While I am not 100% sure why a GIF or
PNG of the text would not suffice for sighted users, with appropriate
alt text and even a longdesc as required, have you given any thought to
something like sIFR?  Again, while imperfect, it might give you a closer

To an extent, I suspect the issue is also further compounded by the fact
that the Braille is probably not English (per se).  Is this the case?

> There also is no generic fall-back font face,
> so I can specify only specific font names that I know to work with
> this particular text. And then what would happen when someone using a
> screen reader is reading that ASCII contracted Braille text with
> Braille output? Likely the contractions would lead to garbled output
> because screen readers expect non-constracted Braille?   

Yes, well, that's the issue.  Sometimes we simply must accept that a
visual representation, or in this case actually a tactile
representation, cannot be carried over to one or more of the other
> Any hints and tips for how to tackle this would be appreciated.

Well, may sIFR as suggested above for visual output, but it will still
leave screen readers (and, in a bizarre twist, users of Braille tactile
output devices) shut out.  Explain it the best you can in clear

Good Luck

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 Friday, 18 November 2005 22:53:00 UTC

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