Assistive tech can't handle the unusual fonts people use on Twitter to be cute


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/10/assistive-tech-cant-handle-t.html


#2

No - I don’t think it’s cute. I think your assistive technology sucks. Fix it!


#3

Yeah, why does text-to-speech read out all the tags unless the user is editing them? That’s a design flaw.


#4

Because it is information that, otherwise, is only available to sighted users. People using assistive technologies should be able to determine context.


#5

Isn’t figuring out the context one of those hard AI tasks? Why should a resource limited screen reader be expected to do something that supercomputers still have not mastered?


#6

That’s a good point, but in this case it’s just rendering the reading unintelligible. I don’t want to be glib about the challenges of creating useful software, but there is surely a better way to present that information to the listener. Does it also read out every single grammar mark?


#7

Meanwhile, people who depend on the technology should…? Web accessibility is worth thinking about, even for those who don’t build websites.


#8

Reminds me of my high-school part-time job writing a program for a small business.

If you entered a comma among the numerals when inputting a dollar value, it would crash the program.

My inept solution: telling the typist “don’t use a comma, don’t ever use a comma!”


#9

How is saying it should work NOT supporting this?


#10

Right, which is why the screen reader depends on alt tags to convey formatting changes and descriptions of images. It’s worth thinking about accessibility when putting content on the internet. Unless you hate people with disabilities. Then…go for it, I guess.

Edit: my last two sentences were totally unnecessary. I don’t think that you hate people with disabilities and wasn’t try to convey that message.


#11

GulliverFoyle
That’s a good point, but in this case it’s just rendering the reading unintelligible. I don’t want to be glib about the challenges of creating useful software, but there is surely a better way to present that information to the listener. Does it also read out every single grammar mark?

Perhaps there is. I hope so. But the people who rely on it now depend on accessible content to be useful.

KathyPadilla
How is saying it should work NOT supporting this?

I didn’t mean to suggest that you don’t support it. Just that we, as individuals who write things on the web, can make things better by thinking about accessibility. We don’t need to place the ownership of the problem on software developers.


#12

I think the core of this is to think about the purpose of one’s own communication: What value do these words have to others, and does the benefit of using textual characters creatively justify the cost of being unintelligible to some portion of one’s potential readers?

The message shouldn’t be “Don’t use fancy characters”, but “Think about the effect of using fancy characters”.


#13

Most of us who post on the web aren’t software developers and don’t even know what those symbols are. But - yes - if you’re aware of a problem addressing it is something most everyone would do. This doesn’t excuse software developers who’s job it is to make these accessible techs work - actually do their jobs competently.

If a contractor put in a shoddy ramp - you’d blame the contractor for substandard work. Software developers don’t get a free pass because reasons.


#14

If you’re implying that people who use non-standard text formatting on social media hate people with disabilities, that comes across as a very extreme characterization. The majority of Twitter posts in general and virtually all Twitter posts written in cutesy text are frivolous.


#15

How about you don’t use these fonts because they look stupid? Will that solve the problem?


#16

If you couldn’t do something because it looks stupid fashion would not exist.


#17

KathyPadilla
Most of us who post on the web aren’t software developers and don’t even know what those symbols are. But - yes - if you’re aware of a problem addressing it is something most everyone would do. This doesn’t excuse software developers who’s job it is to make these accessible techs work - actually do their jobs competently.

If a contractor put in a shoddy ramp - you’d blame the contractor for substandard work. Software developers don’t get a free pass because reasons.

Fair point. I’ve just been thinking about web accessibility a lot lately, it’s been a big push with my employer. It’s a pretty big issue and one that was completely off my radar a year ago. Improvement needs to come from developers of assistive technologies, too.

GulliverFoyle
If you’re implying that people who use non-standard text formatting on social media hate people with disabilities, that comes across as a very extreme characterization. The majority of Twitter posts in general and virtually all Twitter posts written in cutesy text are frivolous.

You are absolutely right, it was an extreme characterization and counterproductive.


#18

I fixed it for you:

import unicodedata
normal_text=unicodedata.normalize('NFKD', unicode_text)
screenread(normal_text)

#19

Yeah I am confused why a different font would result in messed up characters for text to voice. I mean, a normal font like arial or verdana or times new roman should all work the same. Unless, is twitter using some weird cludge to get the fancy text?

Though to be fair, that text is still an abomination due to the abuses of too many and hard to read font types.


#20

it all appeared as question marks on my rss reader too