Last updated: November 17, 2008
This page tests how screen readers speak abbreviations (including acronyms) and goes on to test support for the 'aural' and 'speech' CSS media types. The tests follow a related discussion on the GAWDS discuss mailing list about how the abbreviation WHF might be read out by assistive technology software and techniques to overcome problems that arise.
NB: A full table of results is to be added. Tests will cover different versions of screen readers, with and without abbreviations set to be spoken in expanded form.
For more on aural CSS, see: Aural CSS: Support for CSS 2 Aural Style Sheets / CSS 3 Speech Module.
For further information, see my notes on screen reader quirks.
Try JAWS in normal mode and in
title attribute reading mode for the following tests.
Tests 1 to 3 test basic handling of
acronym. Tests 4 and 5 attempt a couple of solutions to fix how
problematic abbreviations are spoken by screen readers. Tests 6 to 11 test different approaches using CSS to control "conventional"
markup. Tests 6 to 11 also include additional tests which make checking the application of CSS rules easier by swapping how they
The W H F test.
Results draw only basic conclusions at the moment. Tests have been carried out with JAWS 7.10 only. Other screen readers (and perhaps other assistive technology software) to be tested.
Running these tests using JAWS 7.10 with Firefox 1.5 and Internet Explorer 6 confirms that neither the 'aural' or the 'speech' media type has any
effect. These tests include CSS applied without a specified media type, CSS included in external CSS
files with media types specified and CSS applied in the document head using the
media at-rule. In fact, at this time, the
only known support for CSS 2 Aural Style Sheets is in the Emacspeak audio desktop and the
CSS 3 Speech module is only implemented by Opera.
JAWS analyses words to determine whether they should be pronounced as a word or spoken one letter at a time. Older versions of JAWS may vary, but in these test cases, JAWS 7.10 would read WHF one letter at a time, and laser was pronounced as a word.
For problematical abbreviations (that are, for example, incorrectly spoken as a word by a screen reader), the solutions in Test 4 and 5 seem
to work reasonably well. The main thing to bear in mind is that Internet Explorer 6 refuses to recognise the
abbr element and will
not apply your CSS. Also, it is not always correct to use
acronym as not all abbreviations are acronyms. It is also
worth remembering that JAWS users can get any word spoken one letter at a time using the Spell Word command (Insert+Num Pad 5 pressed twice
quickly) or the left and right cursor keys.
JAWS 7.10 behaves quite well through each part of this test. There is some variation when dots are introduced.
This test, where supplementary dots are introduced but hidden off-screen using CSS, produces interesting results.
W H F is read one letter at a time.
Related on dotjay.co.uk: