Since @lrhodes just recently suggested that there should be a feature to hide inaccessible posts, and @gemlog reminded me today that folks might not even realize their names and toots might be hard for some people to read unless they are told, I guess it is my duty now to write another round of educational posts.
Hmm, this isn't really my area of expertise ... maybe I should just go find some old one and reboost?
Nah, let's do this.
In this thread, I'll list a couple suggestions for #Accessibility adjustments you can do to help out people who are #Blind, #VisuallyImpaired, or those who for other reasons use a #ScreenReader. Boosts appreciated!
But before I start:
If you can't do these things, that's fine. It is not my intention to bash other disabilities. The ways our lives suck are different, but we still should get along. You all are, after all, awesome people!
And if you just don't feel like doing them, that's OK. We are used to it. :)
Some people on the Fedi can't see your memes, doggos, flowers, art. That doesn't mean we wouldn't want to enjoy them.
There are also those who have to browse on data, and turned loading images off to save it. Those things eat up quite a bit of bandwidth!
And there are those who have trouble figuring out what they are looking at. Maybe because of the way their brain works, maybe because your image isn't clear to everyone.
You can help all of those by writing a caption for your image.
It doesn't need to be an essay. Even just a few words will do. Enough to explain the joke, or the cute pose your kitten is making. Don't worry about it; just write something!
If you have trouble remembering to do so, and would like a reminder, follow @PleaseCaption
Emojis are a wonderful invention! They help us humans, emotional as we normally are, express those emotions in places where voice tone and facial expressions aren't available. Much better than trying to put those feelings into words, right?
Well, people using a screen reader (a software that allows people, primarily visually impaired ones, to read what is on the screen using text to speech) still hear those emojis as words.
For example, 😉 is read as "graphic Winking Face", with graphic of course explaining what kind of element it is.
And by default for most screen readers, each graphic is on its own line.
So, what this means is that if you put 3 emojis in your name, your name will be 4 lines long to us. I know some of you like having emojis in your name, but if you could at least limit them to <=3, that'd be lovely.
And if you put a clapping emoji after every word, they'll be on separate lines, too. So maybe don't do that either? 🤷♀️
3. "Unusual" Symbols
Unusual is in quotation marks because, with us coming from all around the world, of course not everyone will use the same letters, and they are all equally valid. Hell, Slovenian has 3: č, š and ž.
There are also fancier characters, for when someone wants to look cooler by bending Unicode to their will.
Just keep in mind that screen readers are not well-equipped to deal with those sorts of characters. It also depends on the TTS engine and language; for example, English eSpeak reads all Chinese letters as "Chinese letter", which is not ideal.
ὴ =Letter 1 F 7 4
ž =z hatchek, though many other TTS voices read it as just z, or not at all.
𝚊 =Letter 1 6 8 A
And so on.
So, while it is not a must, if you could use less of such characters in your nickname when possible, and CW posts consisting only of those, that would be great, too!
Oh, right! Almost forgot.
If you have any questions, ask them, and I'll do my best.
If you are curious how a particular emoji or symbol is read, send it, and I'll tel you. I can check with eSpeak, which is the default TTS engine for NVDA, as well as Microsoft's voices and a few others.
And also: Thank you. Both for reading this far, and if it makes you change anything. 💙
@Mayana oh, I had no idea an emoji was its own line in screen readers! In practical terms does that mean there is a pause between lines?
@ljwrites Not really. When reading by line, with up and down arrows, it means you have to press down arrow to get to the next line. When, for example, reading by paragraph, there aren't any pauses.
Screen reader users of differing experience navigate differently. I tend to move around by line most of the time, because I prefer reading smaller chunks of text. Others might not mind it; there are some people who use the Say All function to read the entire text at once!
There are also shortcuts for jumping to the next element of a particular type. For example, the letter "b" for the next button. And there is the tab key. So it isn't nearly as tedious as I might've made it sound like.
it also sounds like screen reader implementations are lagging behind on internet culture.
How often do software screen readers get updates, and can most hardware implementations be updated at all?
Are you aware of open source implementations where users can make feature requests that other volunteer devs can try to implement?
What features would you for instance like to see implemented to the one(s) you use?
@FiXato @ljwrites Oh, that they definitely are.
JAWS, a closed-source Windows screen reader that you have to pay about 800 fucking euros for, gets updated once a year, and still has terrible emoji support, in 2020.
NVDA, an open source screen reader that is completely free, gets updates about 3-4 times a year, and has been reading emojis properly for several years.
Which is ... no surprise, really.
@Mayana that sounds like a problem that could be mitigated much more consistently by changing the way screen readers deal with emojis
@ternarypulsar What would you suggest?
Emojis being read and described to us is a good thing. Screen readers that don't do so yet (like old versions of JAWS) are generally seen as bad.
And in most cases, graphics, links, buttons and the like each being on their own line is good, too. It makes things more readable, and pressable things easier to press.
NVDA, the screen reader I use on Windows, does also have an option to use screen layout, which displays things closer to how you see them. I turn that on sometimes, but it can be a pain when, say, some badly made lists become just a long string of text. Most people keep it turned off, because they're used to doing things in a particular way at this point.
@Mayana assuming (!) that emojis are encoded as utf8 or something else that makes them recognizable, the reader could detect repetition or interspersing, as a naive proposition.
I'd say that it's up to you to decide what would be a good way to handle them, and for authors of screen readers to implement those suggestions
@ternarypulsar Hmm ... it does, in some cases. If you, say, put 5 🐘 emojis in a row in a word document, at least NVDA would read that as "5 Elephant".
But since they often show as graphics around the internet and in messaging apps, that's less possible there.
Yes, perhaps screen readers could constantly read ahead, do text prefetching, and use machine learning to guess how to best read it before you even get to it. But what someone is going to read next isn't always predictable.
And besides, I actually had a discussion about this with a friend yesterday, and we agreed that the biggest disadvantage would be the lag that might result. Screen readers, above all, have to be fast.
@Mayana did you experience such a lag? it seems unlikely to me that that would occur
@ternarypulsar Well, the feature does not exist yet, so I can't answer that question. :)
But considering how laggy screen readers can be in other areas, how often they (still!) crash, and how badly some features are implemented ...
I can't be as optimistic as you. :)
@Mayana fair enough, but it still seems more efficient to attempt to get those performance issues fixed than to convince the entire world to not use certain patterns.
FTR, I find those also uncomfortable.
@ternarypulsar I am not trying to do that. See toot 2 in my thread.
I know most people will not change, and that's fine. It is not a huge problem, merely a inconvenience that I'd rather be without. The image description part is the only one that imo, people *really* should adapt on (but yes, yes, I know, image-describing AI).
Look, in the end, I am not a developer, so cannot help you much. If you are, and know Python, NVDA is open source:
As is, of course, Orca on Linux:
@Mayana my intention was not to suggest that you did, rather to emphasize that it might be very simple to implement (you wouldn't need AI for what I described)! and you can help, by opening a feature request on one of those project sites!
@Mayana so you mentioned "graphic Winking Face", that's something that could be string matched pretty reliably for most pages, I'd assume
@Mayana If I can add?
This isn't JUST for social media. If you have a website/webpages/write books that are available in e-format, etc this all applies.
I have a kid who frequently uses screen readers for school reading assignments and assignments with lots of graphics in them tend to be an absolute pain bc the text is ALWAYS referencing the map/picture/chart/thing, but the screen reader has no reference/info for the graphic and it makes the reading impossible.
@jessmahler Yes, definitely! Accessibility doesn't apply just to Mastodon, or just to social media. Image descriptions especially should be provided wherever that is possible. We need more of those!
Thank you for your thoughts. I am just one person and only thought of a few things, so additions from others are more than welcome.
@InvaderXan I don't usually check the code of websites, so can't be sure if I've encountered any images like that. It'd be easiest if you could send me an example. But I'd say that if provided, most screen readers would choose alt text over title.
Although now that I think about it, I did see an option regarding that in the settings of JAWS, about what should be given priority. But JAWS is an expensive piece of shit that doesn't deserve the users it has.
Yes. It's sad how the pdf format has become so popular. It's an obfuscated, compiled, page description language. It is very good at what it does, but does not lend itself to indexing for screen readers.
Tex/latex style things should be the future from our past.
This seems to be like what @pizza_pal is attempting. @aldersprig @jessmahler
@gemlog @Mayana @aldersprig @jessmahler PDF is kind of the devil. About 50% of the computing that I've gotten paid for has, in some form, involved extracting structured data from PDF files, and it is not good.
It should be a lot better. One thing that is pretty interesting is TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). It is kind of like LaTeX, but more about the semantics of document layout.
@Mayana what about the letters used to represent the planets?
@Mayana what about putting multiple exclamation marks, question marks & a combination of those 2
@Mayana What Having many emojis in a post?
@Mayana what about wrong spellings, or different like instead of pay my keyboard autocorrected to gay for reasons unknown to me for now
@Mayana What about using hewwo instead of Hello & nya instead of a Yes or yeah?
@sidd_harth0_5h4h They are read as they should be read, I think. So not a screen reader issue.
But wait ... nya means yes? But it starts with a n! This is news to me.
OK. 😌 Last "What if?" question. I must admit that when I said people could send them, I did not expect someone to send me 5 ...
Anything else? :P
@Mayana Its mostly because I like nya because its what cats do they nya which is similar to meow, mew or miau.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h For wrong spellings, it depends. Some read as the correct spellings, some slightly differently, some so differently that I have to read by letter to understand what the hell was meant.
As for autocorrect, well, it is as confusing for me as it is for any sighted person. It's not a screen reader thing, after all. Just a Guess What Word Was Replaced thing.
@Mayana With context people do understand the word that was auto corrected like from pay to gay with context is understood that gay here is actually pay. Regarding spelling errors, they happen & I rarely if ever correct those or the auto corrections for that matter.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h Rather lazy, don't you think? But well, it is your choice.
@Mayana Lazy indeed, & I feel that accessibility is essential but the tech isn't putting accessibility as a default nor does it begin with accessibility. Same goes with most people including me. There's no excuse for making things inaccessible for me atleast.
@Mayana I realize that I do make things inaccessible unnecessarily, I don't have any reason to make them inaccessible. I do it because I feel they convey a different meaning. Like saying rather posting would be more accurate "hewwo" instead of a "hello" has a slightly different meaning for me. I read "hewwo" as more friendly & soft than a "hello".
@Mayana Its different meanings that get conveyed but in the process or rather in the pursuit of those different meanings the thing becomes inaccessible. I do believe that things should be as accessible as possible, when thinking rationally but feelings take over the rational mind most of the time.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h Like I said, hewwo is not less accessible.
To me though, it comes accross as, hmm, more sillier? 🤷♀️ But that's just a personality difference.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h It can be annoying, yes.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h It will achieve the opposite effect from what you're intending. If you have one exclamation mark, most voices inflect in such a way as to make it clear the sentence is an exclamation. But with multiple exclamation marks, they just ... give up, I guess.
But just don't do that in general, please. That level of yelling or questioning is never required. Using more than 3 exclamation marks in a post makes you look immature.
@Mayana Immature indeed, but I do that a lot like a lot.
@sidd_harth0_5h4h Which ones do you mean? Could you send them?
@Mayana ♃ is the astronomical symbol for Jupiter
@sidd_harth0_5h4h No luck. Not even read when reading by line, but when reading by character, it is "Symbol 2643". At least with eSpeak. Other TTS engines I tested just don't read it at all.
This seems useful though. I'll just add it to the screen reader's dictionary, so at least it should be read here. But for an average blind person, it seems not. Sorry.
Hello! First, thanks for your thread.
Second, I'd like to see if the following sequences of characters are readable :
Those are used in french to note gender neutral forms, for enby people. But I never thought of accessability.
@punky When you say readable, do you mean by a French voice, or an English one?
With the english eSpeak, they are read as follows:
E acute Middle dot E
A sort of longish ee/ie sound that I'm not quite sure how to transcribe.
@Mayana how bad are links, when written as the URL (link destination) itself?
@Mayana what are custom emoji read like? Here goes an example:
A fun, happy little Mastodon/Hometown instance. Join us by the fire and have awesome discussions about things, stuff and everything in between! Admins: @Talon and @Mayana.