[Athen] Chinese characters/language

Gaeir Dietrich gdietrich at htctu.net
Thu Jan 29 16:26:52 PST 2015

Dunno about anyone else, but I am so thrilled to have everyone from hard core techies to linguists in our network. Go team ATHEN! ;-)


Gaeir (rhymes with "fire") Dietrich
408-996-6047 or 408-996-4636


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Teresa Haven
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 6:45 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] Chinese characters/language

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 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?




Howard Kramer
Promoting the Integration of Universal Design into University Curricula (UDUC)
Lecturer, Cont. Ed - Evening & Cred Admin

cell: 720-351-8668

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