Punctuation usability for screen reader

Noted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 21:04:51. Words count: 381.
Last updated: Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 21:26:55.

How do a simple punctuation may help Web usability? One of the most popular screen reader, a proprietary, Job Access With Speech (JAWS) for Windows, has a custom setting to read some punctuations. JAWS user guide by indiana.edu published this information.

Punctuation: this setting has four levels of verbosity-most, some, all, or none. If you choose most, the majority of punctuation marks will be announced by JAWS. If you choose None, JAWS won’t announce any punctuation, but the voice inflection will indicate when a sentence starts, ends, when there is a question mark or an exclamation point.

Users may choose their preferences.

WebAIM.org article titled Designing for screen reader compatibility has this:

Screen readers read most punctuation by default, such as parentheses, dashes, asterisks, and so on, but not all screen readers choose to read the same pieces of punctuation. Some do not read asterisks by default, for example. Periods, commas, and colons are usually not read out loud, but screen readers generally pause after each. Users can set their preferences so that screen readers read every punctuation mark and character.

Handoko Harry, owner of side22.com, leaving comment on my review post of Rudy Azhar’s blog. He said that Fangs—screen reader emulator—will be read the full-stop in the list items as ‘dot’.

I knew that my main navigation on this unessential site is not fully accessible since they are not in the semantically correct markups. It should be using unordered list. But I have my own reason based on some experimentals.

Back to the punctuation on each of list items. I found interesting point while reviewing Odiogo podcast (Dani Iswara .com). There is No pause on ul, ol, li, dt, dd, and table tags.

I have no great solution for now.

  • In bahasa Indonesia, capital letter may be used if there is a dot or full-stop in previous sentence. Capital letter is useful for scanning or fast reading. I will choose a full-stop in some list items.
  • Each of list items should be read as a pause event, with or without punctuation after it. Since Odiogo podcast do not pause on it, I will choose to put a comma after each of related or continuous list items. It would be more usable for Odiogo and other text-to-speech softwares.

Do you have any better idea?

Dani Iswara, [myfirstnamelastname]@gmail.com.

8 comments to "Punctuation usability for screen reader"

  1. hendro

    memang tanda baca penting, terutama kursor jaws braille

  2. dani

    hendro,
    Jika penting, mana tanda titik dan huruf kapitalnya? Apa hubungannya dengan kursor?

  3. hendro

    Oh, iya bli sekarang aku baru paham tadi aku baca terlalu cepat.
    Aku bingung apakah harus ada spasi sesudah titik untuk memulai kalimat baru atau spasi sebelum titik. Apakah attribute di perlukan juga di css seperti text-transform : capitalize; untuk mempermudahkan. Takut oot kira-kira nyambung ga nih soalnya pake bahasa inggris.

  4. dani

    hendro,
    Pertanyaan CSS text-transform:capitalize-nya menarik. Menurut saya, jika kapitalisasi (huruf) itu bagian dari konten, membantu keterbacaan/kebergunaan (terutama pengguna ‘screen reader’), ya tidak perlu CSS. Jika pemakaian huruf besar itu dekoratif, untuk kepentingan visual (semata), misal pada subjudul dan anak subjudul, silakan gunakan CSS.

  5. ardianzzz

    ikut oot, text-transform disarankan digunakan pada bagian kalimat yang membutuhkan visualisasi huruf kapital. Misalnya untuk heading.

    Tetapi pada struktur dokumennya, huruf-huruf tersebut tetaplah huruf kecil dan bukan kapital sehingga tidak berdampak pada efek “teks berteriak” yang sesungguhnya. Yeah, all caps sama dengan berteriak via teks.

  6. dani

    hendro, ardianzzz,
    Sebenarnya belum terlalu ke luar topik karena masih terkait pembaca layar komputer.

    Kalau dilihat dari sisi struktur (X)HTML, suatu kata atau kalimat (judul, subjudul, anak subjudul) yang disusun dengan huruf kapital semua akan berisiko:

    a) pembaca layar komputer kemungkinan membaca teks tersebut tersebut sebagai singkatan atau dibaca per huruf,

    b) dari sisi tipografi, teks tersebut relatif lebih sulit dibaca, kecuali memiliki pengaturan jarak antarhuruf sedemikian rupa.

    Selebihnya tertulis di Aksesibilitas Web Huruf Kapital (Dani Iswara .com).

  7. Cahya

    Jika tidak mendengar sendiri di screen reader, maka tidak tahu bagaimana masing-masing sistem merespons terhadap punctuation.
    Nah, karena sudah ada yang suka utak-atik, saya angkat bendera putih saja :D.

  8. dani

    Cahya,
    Siapa tahu ada yang punya pengalaman lain. Seperti saat mencoba Odiogo itu.