Re: Parenthesis



For Tonea and others: some of the things I say below are a bit technical, but I think it is important for you to understand some behind the scenes work:


A screen reader really doesn’t care how it sees most punctuations, as it is ultimately up to users and speech synthesizers to handle this part. Contrary to what you may have heard, a screen reader is just like any program (Lotus Notes, Excel, apps used by Social Security Administration, etc.) in that it does what it is told to do: read what is presented on screen. Just like any complex software, screen readers are composed of many modules, with different modules working together to help a blind or visually impaired computer user what he or she needs to do.


Without going into deeper details, what I can tell you is that the way NVDA announces punctuations involve at least three components:

  • Text gatherer: this part of the screen reader gathers what is on screen, including potential text and control information.
  • Text enhancer and user settings: with help from users, the screen reader will format the text so the last component (below) will speak what the screen reader tells it to speak.
  • Text-to-speech: commonly packaged as part of a speech synthesis engine (or hardware), this reads what a program tells it to read (in this case, a screen reader such as NVDA will send text to the synthesizer with or without modifications asked by users).

In terms of NVDA components, these components are accessibility API’s and text infos, configuration database and speech dictionaries, and speech synthesizers, respectively.


Note the fact that how the screen reader will say things depend on user’s preferences. This is the reason why I (a fellow technical author, although going through training) and others cannot really prescribe how things should be formatted regarding punctuations. Although some level of control from screen readers is possible, it is ultimately up to users and speech synthesizers to decide how they’ll perceive text and react to them in your deliverables.


An additional comment: I do understand that some organizations might oppose certain classes of software for security reasons. I personally believe that NVDA can offer something few screen readers can offer: access to internals, thereby letting officials and auditors take a look at internals of how a screen reader works. I’d like to personally question the stances of your employer regarding having no access to a screen reader, because I think at least you (Tonea) should be given a chance to experiment with at least one for a while in hopes of improving your understanding of needs of your audience.




From: [] On Behalf Of tonea.ctr.morrow@...
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 8:35 AM
Subject: Re: [nvda] Parenthesis


No, actually, I can’t. I work on a contract with the United States Government, so I only have on the computer what I am given, and that does not include any screen-reading software. I am sighted. I write help manuals and help files for software that other people write. I have sentences like this:


The second zoom method is to hold the control key while pressing + (plus) to zoom in or while pressing – (minus) to zoom out.


To a sighted person, the word “plus” in parenthesis clarifies that the symbol it follows is a plus symbol, just as the word “minus” in parenthesis clarifies that the symbol it follows in a minus symbol and not a hyphen or an em-dash or some other symbol. I literally need to know how your screen reader treats words or phrases that are in parenthesis so I can write to take your perception into account. The example above, combined with the previous example I gave will help a lot.


Tonea (by the way, it is pronounced Toe knee uh, with the accent on the knee.)


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Antony Stone
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 10:17 AM
Subject: Re: [nvda] Parenthesis


Um, can't you just type a paragraph such as the one you wrote, into a text editor, and then get NVDA to read it back to you, so you can tell for yourself?


Bear in mind though that this might be one of those things that varies according to the speech synthesiser in use, so different users might get different effects - but at least whatever the effect is will be the same for each person as they always get for that type of input, so they should be used to it.





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