[Athen] Chinese characters/language

Sean Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Thu Jan 29 10:11:55 PST 2015

Hi Howard,

We explored some of these issues about 18 months ago for a student who enrolled in a Asian Studies major (Chinese) and needed all material in either Chinese braille or e-text. The student was using a software program called Yong De that was essentially a Chinese screen-reader like JAWS. Don't ask how we obtained a copy - it involved secret agents and safe houses. Since then, we found an actual Chinese JAWS for Windows that may be of use if you want to do testing (http://www.kanhan.com/en/products-services/products/chinese-jaws-windows.html).

Also, JAWS for Windows says it will support Chinese on a Web page provided that a compatible TTS synthesizer is installed AND the Chinese characters are correctly marked up in the page using the "lang" attribute. Here is a page from the Freedom Scientific website in which Chinese characters are present: http://www.kanhan.com/en/products-services/products/chinese-jaws-windows.html

If you look at the source code for the Chinese characters, you will notice they are in the decimal form of Unicode. While we did most of our work in MS Word for the student, I did convert a few pages to HTML and used this website for converting the Chinese characters into the decimal Unicode: http://www.pinyin.info/tools/converter/chars2uninumbers.html . So, if you have someone who can type the Chinese characters into the web page, then you can use the converter to get the decimal Unicode.

I am with Teresa on the issue of the screen-reader handling the interpretation/pronunciation of text and whether or not such content would be rendered correctly. Our student preferred braille, both hard-copy and via e-text, as that was easier for him to discern context.

Hope this helps.

Take care,

On Jan 29, 2015, at 6:44 AM, Teresa Haven <Teresa.Haven at nau.edu> 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 may 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


> 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?


> Thanks,

> Howard




> --

> Howard Kramer


> Promoting the Integration of Universal Design into University Curricula (UDUC)

> Lecturer, Cont. Ed - Evening & Cred Admin

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