[Athen] Screen reader punctuation issue

Bossley, Peter A. bossley.5 at osu.edu
Fri Dec 13 17:31:08 PST 2019

There is no easy way to do this. However, it would be possible to write out what you wanted the screen reader to read as an aria-label. The issue with this would be that if the screen reader user were to review it word by word they would read the label text and not the format that is actually present on the page. It is for that reason that I wouldn’t suggest doing this.

The best advice might be to put a notice on the page itself above the content e.g.
The following section demonstrates syntax for search engines. If you are a screen reader user we recommend that you increase your screen reader punctuation verbosity for best results on this page.

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Debbie Krahmer
Sent: Friday, December 13, 2019 12:18 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Screen reader punctuation issue

Hi everyone,

I'm working with some faculty on a library/archives tutorial for students on how to use our Finding Aides search engine. There's one section of the tutorial that is demonstrating how using quotation marks around a phrase forces the search box to search it as a single phrase, as opposed to two separate words connected by a boolean operator. The first time it is done, it's obvious (to me as a NVDA screen reader user) that the pauses are indicating that the example is, indeed, using the quotation marks.

However, there's a list of example searches that students might use, some of which are phrases that use quotation marks. Visually, it's really obvious that this is done to emphasize when and how a phrase should have quotation marks around it.

Audibly, I can't tell when a phrase is in quotation marks or when a phrase isn't. Maybe it's not necessary to have the extra reminders about enclosing a phrase in quotation marks, but it is an instance where a screen-reader-user wouldn't be receiving the same information that a non-screen-reader-user would be on the page.

I know I can up the verbosity of NVDA, so it will read punctuation, but I wouldn't know to do that for this page ahead of time. and it drives me nuts to have it like that all the time. I wouldn't assume that a student would just know to up their verbosity when reading a tutorial.

Is there a way with ARIA to indicate when its important for the screen reader to actually say the punctuation for a few examples? Something to tell it when to read something as "quote buildings and grounds quote" versus "buildings and grounds."

Debbie Krahmer
Preferred Pronouns: My name/no pronouns

Associate Professor in the Libraries
Accessible Technology & Government Documents Librarian
304 Case-Geyer
Colgate University
dkrahmer at colgate.edu<mailto:dkrahmer at colgate.edu>
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