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RE: screen reader reporting of negative values

From: Foliot, John <john.foliot@chase.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 19:07:16 +0000
To: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
CC: Roger Hudson <rhudson@usability.com.au>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <D0DBF1AE71D5D1448811AC41795190740EA64800@SCACMX021.exchad.jpmchase.net>
Sailesh Panchang wrote:
>
> It is not unusual to use parenthesis too for negative
> numbers like in financial statements. It is standard
> practice and depends on the org.

This is far rarer than noting a number with a "minus" sign. Some organizations might use parenthesis, but I would caution presuming that this is a common scenario. Sailesh can you point us to any examples?


> Screen readers can be configured to announce dashes and
> (, ) etc. by adjusting punctuation verbosity.
> Authors should not spend time  on this issue.

Respectfully disagree. Many power users will have punctuation verbosity set to a minimum output, at which point they may not know to adjust their verbosity for a single page (or a few pages across a larger site).  Where I work, the importance of a negative number versus a positive number can be critical (for example, account balances), and assuming that users will automatically adjust their settings is too huge an assumption to be making. Authors *DO* need to be aware of what does and does not announce a negative number to screen readers, and as Roger has noted some of the possibilities will render a visual "minus" sign, but not be announced.

It is also a dangerous assumption to suggest that all screen reader users will adjust their user-settings. With thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of non-sighted users accessing our web sites, we cannot and will not make that leap of faith: not every screen reader user is a power-user, and many les experienced users will leave their setup the way it shipped, and not make any adjustments - in fact for User Acceptance testing we leave the default settings as they ship for just this reason.


> Maybe, simply notify the users that negative numbers are
> denoted by parenthesis or the minus sign.

A useful suggestion, but I personally don't think that authors can leave it at that and assume they have done their due diligence. If we can, we should do more than this. Knowing what to author for maximum effect is, I believe one of Roger's goals here.


> The users will do the needful depending on data being
> consumed and how it is important to the reader.
> Surely it should not be denoted using CSS or &hyphen;
> &dash;, etc.

Agreed. The question, I believe, is: does using the common dash alone work for the majority of users, or should we be doing more? Very much an authors question.

JF



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Received on Monday, 19 August 2013 19:07:45 UTC

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