Re: Access regarding email with quotations and screen readers, NVDA, in this case

Rob Hudson <rob_hudson3182@...>

It's called a block quote. Most screen readers have a hot key for it, usually the letter q.
In NVDA, press comma, and it jumps out of the container--in this case, a block quote.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Brian Vogel" <britechguy@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2020 14:37:48 -0700
Subject: [nvda] Access regarding email with quotations and screen readers, NVDA, in this case

I don't know whether this is something NVDA (or any screen reader) should address, or if the issue should be solved elsewhere, but a screen reader then able to pick up the change.

It is very, very common practice for e-mail conversations to take on a "quote, reply, quote, reply, quote, reply" format.  This is all the more true when a very long exchange is taking place, involving multiple participants, and it would be entirely unclear what was being responded to without retaining something from a prior message or messages to set the stage.

In "the old days" of plain text email, quotation was indicated by the presence of the greater than character, >, at the beginning of a line and the number of greater thans indicated how many times something had been quoted, as there are often quotes that quote previous quotes.  While this certainly worked, it was visually very messy as quote depth increased.

Now in the age of HTML e-mail, the use of characters to indicate quotation has gone by the wayside and now visual bars are used in much the same manner.  They're semi-transparent and for each requotation another bar appears, so if someone had quoted someone else who had already quoted someone before them, there would be three bars stacked, to show who quoted what.

In any event, for those of us who can see, we are able to scan the page visually and jump almost instantly to the new material that resides beneath each quote sequence after reading whatever portion of the quoted material they need to in order to get themselves up to speed before reading that new material.

I have never found a way for a screen reader user to do "direct jumps" to new material with a screen reader.  Screen readers don't seem to differentiate in any meaningful way between quoted and fresh material, and give screen reader users a way to jump between chunks of that fresh material when they wish to do so.

Am I missing something?   Is there already a way this can be done with ease?  If there is, I don't know what it is and I have plenty of evidence that most screen reader users don't, either, even those who've been using them for a very, very long time.

If there isn't, is there some roadblock to making a screen reader able to recognize where quoted text ends and new material begins?  Since there has to be something behind the scenes that creates those bar structures that I see, I have to believe that a screen reader has access to that same information, and that it would be relatively simply (note, relatively) to create a keyboard shortcut that causes all quoted material to be skipped and focus thrown to the first word of the unquoted material after it.

I've been using e-mail since the 1980s, and I can say without question that the custom in the blind community of putting all new content at the top is not even close to universal.  And given how well a "quote response quote response" format is for sighted email users, it's never going to go away.  It seems there should be some way for screen reader users to do the rough equivalent of reading whatever part of the quoted material they might wish, but after having heard it being able to jump instantly past any that follows where they've stopped and go straight to the new material beneath the quote.

I know that there are a number of regulars here who are NVDA developers, add-on developers, or similarly positioned to have a lot of insight about this, so I'm asking.


Brian - Windows 10 Pro, 64-Bit, Version 2004, Build 19041

A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.

~ Oscar Wilde

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