[Athen] Strong Vs. Bold

Christine Robinson crobinson at ggc.edu
Wed Sep 26 08:51:26 PDT 2018

To add a smidgen to Karen’s comments (…and I love everything Karen says!):

The way I think about it, is that when we make visual changes to text, we always have a purpose behind it. When we use Styles, we allow screen readers to announce our purpose.

If a screen reader announces “bold text,” that only tells what visual change has been made, not why. I would be wondering, “Why is it bold? Is it a heading? If so, what level heading in the organizational structure? Is it more important text? If so, what’s the level of importance compared to text that’s in italics?” And it would get more complicated if screen readers also announced details like “Bold, 14 point, dark green.”

We use heading styles to clarify the organizational structure of a document, and we use emphasis styles to help people know which text we consider most essential.

When we use Styles instead of direct formatting, we allow screen readers to communicate the purpose/function/”role” of any section of text, regardless of what it looks like.

My two cents,

Christine Robinson | Technical Trainer/Writer | Center for Teaching Excellence
Georgia Gwinnett College | 678-407-5193

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Karlen Communications
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 11:32 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Strong Vs. Bold

In terms of accessible document design, bold and italic as well as underline are sort of deprecated in best practices in favour of using styles to accomplish the same thing. This improves the accessibility of documents.

For example, if I have trouble reading text in italics, I can modify the Emphasis Style to turn off italics and maybe make the text larger or a different colour. As the person accessing the content, I can create my own Style Set and swap it out with the one that doesn’t work for me.

Bold, italic and underline are consider direct formatting. “We” are trying to move away from direct formatting as it can create an accessibility barrier.

While you can use Strong and Emphasis there is still no underline Style and when doing workshops on accessible document design, this is one of the things I have participants to….add an Underline Style to their document template or the document they are remediating if underline has been used.

I think it is also an alignment to what other document formats are using. For example, bold and strong were deprecated in HTML 4 in favour of strong and emphasis.

I’m hoping that in the near future, Microsoft will map the keyboard commands and the buttons on the Home Ribbon to the Styles instead of keeping them as direct formatting.

Cheers, Karen

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Robert Spangler
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 11:07 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Strong Vs. Bold

Hello, I didn't want to hijack an existing thread, so I decided to start a new one. Robert, you indicated that if someone uses the strong style for bold, the screen reader will announce the style change. However, the screen reader can also be configured to announce whether text is bold. With this being said, what is the difference between using the strong style or just making the text bold? Is it a visual difference?


Robert Spangler
Disability Services Technical Support Specialist
rspangler1 at udayton.edu<mailto:rspangler1 at udayton.edu>
Office of Learning Resources (OLR) - RL 023
Ryan C. Harris Learning & Teaching Center (LTC)
University of Dayton | 300 College Park | Dayton, Ohio 45469-1302
Phone: 937-229-2066
Fax: 937-229-3270
Ohio Relay: 711 (available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing)
Web Site: http://go.udayton.edu/learning
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