[Athen] Chinese characters/language

Patrick Burke burke at ucla.edu
Thu Jan 29 09:01:50 PST 2015

Hi Howard & All,

A few small things to add:

Screen reader support for Asian languages seems to be slowly improving.:


The NVDA developers have spent significant time
working on support for Chinese (received an award
from an organization in Taiwan back in 2012,
etc.) It looks like there are add-ons out there
to add other speech synths, etc. So that may be a
promising direction to investigate.

For the record, one of our students is a native
Korean speaker, & she says she hates the
"British" pronunciation of NVDA when reading
Korean (i.e., the default ESpeak synthesizer).


There are localized versions of Jaws sold in Hong
Kong, Japan, etc. I've had a hard time finding
details about these in English. I haven't
inquired about this with Freedom Sci. in recent
years, so they may have more info.


Again fwiw, but a friend who is a native Japanese
speaker is very pleased with the speech feedback,
& even the keyboard input support of VoiceOver on
the iPhone. This is just for personal use, not in
an academic context. Still it could be worth
exploring the Chinese speech options in iOS
(would probably have the best quality voices), if you have iOS devices handy.

All these presuppose that the text is available
in the right Unicode format, as Teresa says.


At 06:44 AM 1/29/2015, Teresa Haven wrote:

>Hi, Howard. Spanish, French, German, Russian,

>Greek, etc. all use alphabets, writing systems

>that represent a set number of sounds with

>specific characters, and those characters

>don’t have any inherent meaning. Chinese and

>Japanese use pictographs, where each character

>has a specific meaning, and there are thousands

>of characters in common use. ASCII is an

>American coding system, and includes a very few

>basic Chinese/Japanese characters (like the days

>of the week, “hour”, “minute”, and

>“yen”. Unicode has a much broader range of

>character codes available in the CJK (Chinese,

>Japanese, Korean) subset, but I’m not sure how

>well a screen reader would be able to interpret

>and pronounce any given character, since

>pronunciation can change depending on context

>(and language – Chinese and Japanese mayy look a

>lot alike, but they are not mutually

>intelligible). A Japanese or Chinese native

>screen reader would probably be better equipped

>for those details, but an American screen reader

>might not be equipped to handle them at all,

>even if the webpage is coded in Unicode rather

>than images. For a language placement exam here

>in the US, I’d first explore the capabilities

>of the American screen readers in use, then

>consider alt-tagging all the Chinese graphics if

>the Unicode won’t render properly. Of course,

>whatever method is used in the placement exam

>should probably carry over to the course materials as well



>Hope this helps,



>Teresa Haven, Ph.D.

>Accessibility Analyst, Northern Arizona University

>Co-Chair, AHEAD Standing Committee on Technology




>From: athen-list

>[mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu]

>On Behalf Of Howard Kramer

>Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:22 PM

>To: Access Technology Higher Education Network

>Subject: [Athen] Chinese characters/language


>Wink, Susan,


>This may be a question most in your areas of

>expertise. How difficult is it to present

>Chinese text (don't ask me which dialect - it's

>all Greek to me) on a web page that can be read

>by a screenreader? I've been evaluating some

>language placement exams here at UCB. The

>Spanish, French and German were rendered with

>"real" (i.e. ascii) text - as I would have

>expected. Even the Russian exam used ascii

>characters. The Chinese was rendered with

>graphics. Are there no ascii codes for Chinese?







Patrick J. Burke

UCLA Disabilities &
Computing Program

Phone: 310 206-6004
E-mail: burke at ucla.edu
Location: 4909 Math Science

Department Contact: dcp at oit.ucla.edu

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