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RE: Are All Capital Letters accessible?

From: Jonathan Avila <jon.avila@ssbbartgroup.com>
Date: Fri, 12 May 2017 15:04:53 +0000
To: IG - WAI Interest Group List list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <SN1PR0301MB2047208796CA37E87FC3E8039BE20@SN1PR0301MB2047.namprd03.prod.outlook.com>
Ø  I was a bit surprised however to see that there were only 4 subjects with low vision used in this study.

Any study with such a small number of participants with low vision cannot be generalized to this population and thus has limited use. While I agree that the patterns of letters may be what our brain users and I agree that uppercase can be read from further a  way that does not mean that reading upper case is more efficient or recommended.   Eye charts use upper case and so do street signs so they can be read with greater distance.   I agree that it may not be as detrimental for short pieces of text and it can have some benefits of drawing the user’s attention but fundamentally doesn’t alter my understanding of the situation that using it for other than short bits reducing the user’s reading efficiency.  While the article asserts that’s just because we are used to lowercase – I’d argue that might not hold true for low vision users since our viewing angle and ability to read ahead may not be the same as others.


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From: Gregg C Vanderheiden [mailto:greggvan@umd.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 11:11 PM
To: Jim Allan
Cc: Andrew Arch; IG - WAI Interest Group List list
Subject: Re: Are All Capital Letters accessible?


I was a bit surprised however to see that there were only 4 subjects with low vision used in this study.

1-diabetic retinopathy

20/159 (2)
20/252  (1)
20/317 (1)

this paper also cites

Miles Tinker, an authority on legibility and typography said “Lower-case letters have more ‘character’ in terms of variation in shape and the contrasting of ascenders and descenders with short letters. This leads to characteristic word forms that are much easier to read than words in all capitals” (Tinker, 1963<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698907002830#bib15>; p. 34). Tinker found that while upper-case text was perceived at a greater distance, it had a ‘retarding effect’ on reading speed, especially for long intervals of reading, and was preferred by only 10% of readers, compared with 90% for lower-case text (Tinker, 1932<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698907002830#bib16> ;  Tinker and Patterson, 1929<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698907002830#bib17>).


This generally results in findings of lower-case being more legibile than upper-case (Smith, Lott, & Cronnell, 1969<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698907002830#bib14>).

the study consisted of different parts including letter identification (not reading) and random strings of letters.   (again making this a letter identification task rather than a reading task.   When they did use real words — they used only 5 letter words (biasing study against word outlines)  as well.

Finally - they didn’t actually let the users read sentences on a page.   They used   Rapid Serial Visual Presentation of Words  RSVP  - which I believe is referring to flashing the words one at a time in the center of the screen while you look at them.

While interesting -  I would not base our work on a single study of 4 people.

Do you know if this study has been replicated.     It is interesting.       It looks at reading for people with a visual reserve of 2 ( 2x what they can discern)    which is an interesting approach for people with low vision.


Gregg C Vanderheiden

On May 9, 2017, at 3:37 PM, Jim Allan <jimallan@tsbvi.edu<mailto:jimallan@tsbvi.edu>> wrote:

Then, there is this spanner in the works

Letter case and text legibility in normal and low vision
Volume 47, Issue 19<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00426989/47/19>, September 2007, Pages 2499–2505

It is thought by cognitive scientists and typographers alike, that lower-case text is more legible than upper-case. Yet lower-case letters are, on average, smaller in height and width than upper-case characters, which suggests an upper-case advantage. Using a single unaltered font and all upper-, all lower-, and mixed-case text, we assessed size thresholds for words and random strings, and reading speeds for text with normal and visually impaired participants. Lower-case thresholds were roughly 0.1 log unit higher than upper. Reading speeds were higher for upper- than for mixed-case text at sizes twice acuity size; at larger sizes, the upper-case advantage disappeared. Results suggest that upper-case is more legible than the other case styles, especially for visually-impaired readers, because smaller letter sizes can be used than with the other case styles, with no diminution of legibility.

On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 9:38 PM, Andrew Arch <andrew.arch@digital.gov.au<mailto:andrew.arch@digital.gov.au>> wrote:
Here's are some short articles that counter the initial Myth<http://www.blog.theteamw.com/2009/12/23/100-things-you-should-know-about-people-19-its-a-myth-that-all-capital-letters-are-inherently-harder-to-read/> one. Not peer reviewed, but supports many of the points made already.

  *   Writing readable content (and why All Caps is so hard to read)<https://www.mity.com.au/blog/writing-readable-content-and-why-all-caps-is-so-hard-to-read> [1]
  *   Why Text in All Caps Is Hard for Users to Read<http://uxmovement.com/content/all-caps-hard-for-users-to-read/> [2]
  *   How We Read<https://alistapart.com/article/how-we-read> [3]
And personally, I find them harder to read!


[1] https://www.mity.com.au/blog/writing-readable-content-and-why-all-caps-is-so-hard-to-read

[2] http://uxmovement.com/content/all-caps-hard-for-users-to-read/

[3] https://alistapart.com/article/how-we-read

Andrew Arch
Accessibility & Inclusivity Lead
Digital Transformation Agency (DTA)
Australian Government
p. +61 (0)428 134 529 t. @DTA<https://twitter.com/DTA>  |  @amja

On 9 May 2017 at 10:59, Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com<mailto:pjenkins@us.ibm.com>> wrote:
reliable reference needed?  OK, does any one on this list think that all upper case sentences as easier to read  - vote yes?

so far no yes responses, so the nay's have it!

A reliable study conducted May 2017 proves nearly no one likes all upper case for reading for a variety of reasons.

Note: the question was not:
1. are upper case *letters* harder to read
2. are upper case *words* harder to read
3. *read* was not defined as only visual reading print, and includes, because of this list's audience, considerations for print disabled.
4. I forgot the 4th point
Phill Jenkins
Senior Engineer & Accessibility Executive
IBM Accessibility Research

Jim Allan, Accessibility Coordinator
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 W. 45th St., Austin, Texas 78756
voice 512.206.9315    fax: 512.206.9264  http://www.tsbvi.edu/

"We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us." McLuhan, 1964

Received on Friday, 12 May 2017 15:05:37 UTC

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