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 adjustments you can do to help out people who are , , or those who for other reasons use a . Boosts appreciated!
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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. :)
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1. Images
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
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2. Emojis
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? 🤷‍♀️
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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.
More examples:
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!
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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. 💙
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@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.

@Mayana @jessmahler Random question on this – on websites, the code for images can include both a title field and an alt field. How do screen readers parse those? Do they read both?

@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.
@jessmahler

@Mayana @jessmahler Got it 😂 I don't have any examples to hand right now though. When I have the time to set it up though, maybe we could do an experiment!

@jessmahler@wandering.shop @Mayana@dragonscave.space My university is actually going through the process of making all our pdfs and websites accessible and my is it a THING sometimes.

@aldersprig @jessmahler That is awesome! But yeah, I can imagine it can be quite a lot of work. Especially with PDFs, which are just ... inaccessible by nature.

@Mayana
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.

@gemlog @Mayana @aldersprig @jessmahler Things like TEI aren't end-user solutions, but if it was implented in existing software, it could help to produce better documents.

@pizza_pal
Right. That was my point yesterday: bury the stuff from high level usage.
@Mayana @aldersprig @jessmahler

@pizza_pal
I took mayana off this thread as she hates this stuff, but karl has an interest I know @kmj
@aldersprig @jessmahler

@gemlog @kmj @aldersprig @jessmahler Yeah, I kind of destroyed my dream job working in the semiotics archive and developing software for working with TEI by being an idiot. But them's the knocks.

It's really a great tool for describing textual documents.

@pizza_pal
Well, let's explore the depths of your idiocy bud! Lay on McDuff! And damned be him who first cries Latex is enough! :-)
Give some links and ideas on it please.

@kmj @aldersprig @jessmahler

@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 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 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.

@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.

@Mayana
Hello! First, thanks for your thread.
Second, I'd like to see if the following sequences of characters are readable :
æ
é·e
é'e

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:
Ae
E acute Middle dot E
A sort of longish ee/ie sound that I'm not quite sure how to transcribe.
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@Mayana how bad are links, when written as the URL (link destination) itself?

@Mayana what are custom emoji read like? Here goes an example: :hacker_a:

@Mayana and, if you are fine with checking, I'd appreciate knowing how my website is doing accessibility wise! https://ella.wantscuddl.es/

@Mayana yep, I've a question *raises hand* why is it a problem when things are on separate lines? I'm referring to what you say on toot 4/5...

@honiden Because more key presses. 😛
But more seriously, well, that's a hard question to answer. Because generally, it isn't. For example, take the hyperlinks on TVTropes. Where as those show up in the middle of the text for you, for me (at least, if the "Use Screen Layout" option is disabled in NVDA's case, which we'll assume it is) each shows up at the start of its own line. And that's good, because it means that as soon as I reach a link, I can press control+enter to create yet another tab that will drain all my time, instead of having to move left and right to find the link in question first.
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@honiden Basically, putting those links on their own lines makes them harder to miss, which is good because there's potential content of interest behind them. But when scrolling Mastodon, the thing of interest isn't really the username; that's just a brief "X said" before the text of the toot.
So I guess that's why it is a problem? Because, if your nickname has 5 emojis in it, that means that I will have to press down arrow 5 additional times before I get to the part that actually interests me.
But that's just what I thought up now that you asked. And, given that most emojis have names of 1 to 3 words, even when they are all on one line it is still a long string of text for a nickname (names tend to be short), although it is easier to skip.
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