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Re: How do assistive technologies handle icon fonts?

From: Elizabeth J. Pyatt <ejp10@psu.edu>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:59:09 -0500
Cc: Web Accessibility Initiative Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, Ja Eun Ku <jku@illinois.edu>
Message-Id: <24DF6D50-7DBF-4A44-BD5F-5EAC9E9F437A@psu.edu>
To: Michiel Bijl <michiel@agosto.nl>

If your icon font is displaying something different from the intended Unicode value, you will almost certainly need a workaround for screen readers. I have experimented with ARIA and found that assigning the role of image to a character not otherwise recognized in a screen reader and adding a description in “aria-label” works. 


I would be interested to find if this works for an icon font as well.


P.S. I have some other notes about icon fonts at http://sites.psu.edu/gotunicode/2013/06/26/icon_fonts_unicode_and_accessi/. If you assign the glyphs to the Private Use Area in Unicode, you would probably get consistent results - they might be visible on a browser, but skipped by JAWS (and possibly VoiceOver). That could be handy for decorative icons which don’t need ALT tags.

> On Nov 30, 2015, at 4:37 PM, Michiel Bijl <michiel@agosto.nl> wrote:
> Jemma and I are doing some accessibility testing on icon fonts—especially Font Awesome—and how assistive technologies handle them. I’ve setup a GitHub repository called Font Awesome (because we initially targeted that specific library; should rename it). I’ve already added one test example and some test results, but suggestions for more examples (ways to fix the issue of icon fonts being announced weird), or test results for existing tests, or even tips on how to display test results properly; it’s all welcome!
> —Michiel

Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Teaching and Learning with Technology
Penn State University
ejp10@psu.edu, (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

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Received on Monday, 30 November 2015 21:59:36 UTC

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