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?