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Re: WCAG and Diacritical Markings

From: Cohn, Jonathan <jcohn@air.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2016 14:19:04 +0000
To: Ryan McCalla <rmccalla@hawaii.edu>
CC: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <1E356832-32E5-4C85-9F82-DE5BC9EE1398@air.org>
It appears that the default synthesizer on Macintosh is reading these words correctly. Is it possible that some of the newer speech engines that can be gotten with a download have better support for the language? If not, perhaps VFO Group would be willing to add dictionary items you provide to their supplied dictionaries.

It seems ridiculous to resort to CSS or image hacks to get pronunciation correct.

Jonathan Cohn

On Aug 11, 2016, at 6:21 PM, Ryan McCalla <rmccalla@hawaii.edu<mailto:rmccalla@hawaii.edu>> wrote:


Sorry if you’re seeing this message twice. Not sure if my first message was sent.

My name is Ryan and I am the Accessibility Specialist for the IT department at the University of Hawaiʻi. We are in a unique situation and I'm hoping someone on this list can give us a little guidance.

All of our current sites and pages use correct Hawaiian spelling of words and names with their correct diacritical markings. However, JAWS and NVDA do not handle these special markings well. JAWS is the worst and sometimes reads "Hawaiʻi" as "Hawai?i". The issue is that we want to be WCAG compliant, but at the same time we want to recognize the Hawaiian language and culture with the correct spelling and correct diacritical marks for Hawaiian words and names. If we use diacritical marks, screen readers do not handle/read them properly. If we don't use the proper spelling, we run the risk of upsetting the native culture.

Is there anything that we can do to ensure that Hawaiian words/names get spoken correctly by screen readers? Does accessibility trump culture and language? If we continue to use diacritical markings (and assuming we have no other issues), would we still meet WCAG compliance, even though screen readers stumble through the page?

More info on Hawaiian Diacritics at http://www.hawaii.edu/site/info/diacritics.php.


Ryan McCalla
ITS Staff
University of Hawaiʻi

Received on Friday, 12 August 2016 14:19:29 UTC

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