Re: determining the color of a text in Excel with NVDA
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Perhaps your difference for negative number choices is a localization variance based upon your operating system language. I am using US format for numbers and currency, so I get my third choice as number surrounded by parenthesis and fourth as red surrounded by parenthesis. Perhaps it is different for different countries.
Personally, I find no reason for NVDA to change. It is reading what is in the cell. JAWS and Narrator behave the same way. For NVDA to properly interpret the cells meaning, it would need to first ascertain that the cell is formatted as a number or currency before attempting to provide alternate speech for numbers that are bright red in color. If the cell is formatted as text, it may not even represent a negative number. Furthermore, since currencies differ from country to country, NVDA might have to further drill down based upon localization and currency choices. All this processing at each cell could slow down reading and I am not in favor. The real solution is for Microsoft to remove this antiquated choice (or replace it with a choice that is bright red with a negative sign) and to flag it as an accessibility error in their accessibility checker.
If the options with parenthesis are chosen and the NVDA symbol verbosity level is not set to high or all, the same situation occurs. NVDA will not speak the parenthesis and the user will not be provided with the necessary information. Should this be a warning in the accessibility checker, since a wrong choice for symbol verbosity will result in misinterpretation? I forget, but what is the default symbol verbosity level in NVDA?
To make things even more confusing, the use of red seems to come from accounting, yet there are no choices when setting the format to accounting to choose how negative numbers are displayed. Accounting format only displays negative numbers in parenthesis with no color variations. The difference in US currency is that accounting displays the dollar sign outside of the parenthesis while currency displays the dollar sign within the parenthesis. This means that when NVDA speaks the numbers with symbol verbosity to none or low, the user can differentiate between positive and negative accounting numbers. Positive numbers are spoken as 1 dollar, 2 dollars, etc. while negative numbers are spoken as dollar 1 dot zero zero and dollar 2 dot zero zero. Since currency formatting puts the dollar sign inside the parenthesis, positive and negative numbers are spoken identically when symbol verbosity is set to none or low.
I also did a little digging on the history of using red to signify negative numbers. Below is the best excerpt that I found.
What does it mean to be “in the black” or “in the red?”
September 30, 2015/
If you’re even slightly familiar with the world of accounting and finance, you’ve probably heard the phrases “in the red” and “in the black” before. Even if you are not in finance, you may have heard the terms anyway—they have become a part of our everyday speech and they are often used in common conversation.
For those of you not familiar with the phrases, I’ll briefly explain. The phrase “in the black” refers to being financially solvent or profitable, or sometimes more generally, just not in debt. A business that is “in the black” is usually making a profit or, at the very least, making enough to get by without having to worry about going bankrupt. Conversely, the phrase, “in the red” means to be in debt, running a deficit, or generally just not making money—being cash negative. Although cash flow cycles for businesses and people change from year to year, a business that is “in the red” for several years in a row without a plan to get out of debt often fail. Of course, the phrases aren’t always used consistently, and there are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, being “in the black” is a positive thing, and being “in the red” is usually considered to be a negative thing.
So, now that you know what both of these phrases mean, you may be wondering where the terms came from or what their origins are? After all, there aren’t really any other fields in which these colors (black and red) are used to indicate positive and negative. So if you are guessing that these color indicators are somewhat unique to the world of finance, you would be correct.
To understand where these phrases come from, we have to go back to the days before accounting was done on computers. Before computers, accountants did everything by hand and with pen and paper. In order to help them differentiate between deposits and debits, they started using different color ink for each. Because black and red ink were two readily available colors, they were chosen for the purpose. Though it’s only speculation, some say that red was chosen to denote debits/losses/debts because red is considered a harsh color and can catch one’s attention. It also subtly reinforces the idea of negativity or something “bad.” They wanted to make debts stand out and catch people’s attention. It’s the same reason that teachers often correct homework and quizzes and tests with red pens—it grabs a student’s attention and lets them focus on what they did wrong so, hopefully, they can learn from their mistake and correct the mistake on the next test or quiz or homework assignment.
And now that everything is done on computers, the history of the phrases has still stuck around. In many cases, they really are meaningless. Most software now uses parentheses to indicate a negative number or a debit. Sometimes, they also simply put a minus sign before a number or even have a separate column in a spreadsheet for debits. It is, however, interesting to note that some computer programs still do use red type for debts and debits—a nod to the history of accounting. Again, there is really no practical purpose for this, but it fits with the history of accounting.
From: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Behalf Of Quentin Christensen
Good points everyone - I should add, I wasn't intending to be argumentative, I was both indicating why NVDA reads what it does (firstly because it just reads the same text that a sighted user gets visually, and secondly because I don't think anyone had raised this particular scenario previously), and also starting to consider if we do change the information that is provided by the spreadsheet creator (a sighted user may automatically translate a number written in red to mean it's negative, but the information Excel gives them is still a regular number, written in red), are there any other situations to consider, either which should also be changed, or where this could lead to undesirable confusion.
Interestingly, the four options I have for number formatting in Excel (latest Office 365) are black with negative symbol, red without negative symbol, black with negative symbol and red with negative symbol. I'm not sure why the third option for me seems to repeat the first - I was wondering where people were getting the negative number in parentheses from - must be a bug in my Excel maybe?
I have created an issue on our tracker for this, but do feel free to add any other info to it that I haven't thought of: https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda/issues/8875
On Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 8:13 AM Laurie Mehta via Groups.Io <email@example.com> wrote: