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RE: screen reader reporting of negative values

From: Jonathan Avila <jon.avila@ssbbartgroup.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 15:20:13 -0400
Message-ID: <c3c201fd704cf21112a36bcc5cde6bd1@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Foliot, John" <john.foliot@chase.com>, Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Cc: Roger Hudson <rhudson@usability.com.au>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.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?

I have seen parenthesis used to indicated a credit.  Thus, this could be
very confusing if it were also used for a negative.  In some brief tests I
ran with  assistive technologies most indicate the negative when it is
displayed using a dash directly before a number and the assistive
technology is set to the default punctuation level.  The challenge then
comes when an AT doesn't support it or when the user has changed their
punctuation settings.

Using off-screen text isn't always a solution as it tends to muddy the
reading with braille or reading by character and can affect copy and
pasting.  It would be nice if there was a way to indicate a symbol that
should not be ignored.  For example, in HTML it is possible to indicate
that certain words should not be wrapped or broken.


-----Original Message-----
From: Foliot, John [mailto:john.foliot@chase.com]
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 3:07 PM
To: Sailesh Panchang
Cc: Roger Hudson; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: screen reader reporting of negative values

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.


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Received on Monday, 19 August 2013 19:20:37 UTC

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