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Screen Readers: HTML Character Entities & Numeric Character References

Last updated: April 6, 2008

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Notes

April 6, 2008: Jason Kiss has published results of his own testing of character references with more recent versions of JAWS (8.0) and Window-Eyes (6.1); highly recommended reading: JAWS, Window-Eyes and Character References | Accessible Culture

Testing how various screen readers read out a selection of HTML character entity references and numeric character references following a discussion on Accessify Forum:

Important: These tests are made with screen readers in their default settings. Most screen readers will speak quite a bit of punctuation by default. However, the tests performed here with Window-Eyes 4.5 resulted in a very minimal number of characters being spoken. Newer versions of Window-Eyes may behave differently, but some versions seem to require users to change the punctuation settings to enable general punctuation and mathematical symbols to be spoken (many thanks to Priti on Accessify Forum for that information).

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Tests

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Test 1: Multiplication Sign

Expected output: "times (by)" or "multiplied by", Suspected output: "times" or "multiply". Results for Test 1

Character entity reference: ×

Numeric character reference: ×

Test 2: Division Sign

Expected output: "divided by", Suspected output: "divide". Results for Test 2

Character entity reference: ÷

Numeric character reference: ÷

Test 3: Degree Sign

Expected output: "degrees", Suspected output: "degrees". Results for Test 3

Character entity reference: °

Numeric character reference: °

Test 4: Plus-Minus/Plus-or-Minus Sign

Expected output: "plus or minus", Suspected output: "plus minus". Results for Test 4

Character entity reference: ±

Numeric character reference: ±

Test 5: Squared/Superscript Two

Expected output: "squared" (most cases), Suspected output: "squared". Results for Test 5

Character entity reference: ²

Numeric character reference: ²

Test 6: Cubed/Superscript Three

Expected output: "cubed" (most cases), Suspected output: "cubed". Results for Test 6

Character entity reference: ³

Numeric character reference: ³

Test 7: Fraction One Quarter

Expected output: "one quarter", Suspected output: "one quarter". Results for Test 7

Character entity reference: ¼

Numeric character reference: ¼

Test 8: Fraction One Half

Expected output: "one half", Suspected output: "one half". Results for Test 8

Character entity reference: ½

Numeric character reference: ½

Test 9: Fraction Three Quarters

Expected output: "three quarters", Suspected output: "three quarters". Results for Test 9

Character entity reference: ¾

Numeric character reference: ¾

Test 10: Fraction Slash

Expected output: [unknown], Suspected output: "slash". Results for Test 10

Character entity reference:

Numeric character reference:

Test 11: Maths phrase 1

Expected output: "greater than" and "minus", Suspected output: "greater" and "minus". Results for Test 11

Character entity reference: a − b > c

Numeric character reference: a − b > c

Test 12: Maths phrase 1 (variation with dash)

Expected output: "greater than" and "minus", Suspected output: "greater" and "minus". Results for Test 12

Character entity reference: a - b > c

Numeric character reference: a - b > c

Test 13: Maths phrase 2

Expected output: "squared", Suspected output: "squared". Results for Test 13

Character entity reference: E = mc²

Numeric character reference: E = mc²

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Results

Test/Character Expected Result JAWS 7.10 with Internet Explorer 6 JAWS 7.10 with Firefox 1.5 Home Page Reader 3.04 with Internet Explorer 6 Home Page Reader 3.04 with Firefox 1.5 Window-Eyes 4.5 with Internet Explorer 6 Window-Eyes 4.5 with Firefox 1.5
Named Numeric Named Numeric Named Numeric Named Numeric Named Numeric Named Numeric
1: Multiplication Sign (×) "times (by)" or "multiplied by" "times" "times" "times" "times" "times" "times" "times" "times" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
2: Division Sign (÷) "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" "divided by" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
3: Degree Sign (°) "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" "degrees" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
4: Plus-Minus/Plus-or-Minus Sign (±) "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" "plus or minus" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
5: Squared/Superscript Two (²) "squared" (most cases) "superscript two" "superscript two" "superscript two" "superscript two" "superscript two" "superscript two" "superscript two" "superscript two" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
6: Cubed/Superscript Three (³) "cubed" (most cases) "superscript three" "superscript three" "superscript three" "superscript three" "superscript three" "superscript three" "superscript three" "superscript three" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
7: Fraction One Quarter (¼) "one quarter" "one fourth" "one fourth" "one fourth" "one fourth" "one fourth" "one fourth" "one fourth" "one fourth" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
8: Fraction One Half (½) "one half" "one half" "one half" "one half" "one half" "one half" "one half" "one half" "one half" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
9: Fraction Three Quarters (¾) "three quarters" "three fourths" "three fourths" "three fourths" "three fourths" "three fourths" "three fourths" "three fourths" "three fourths" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
10: Fraction Slash (⁄) [unknown] "slash" "slash" "slash" "slash" "slash" "slash" "slash" "slash" [not read] [not read] [not read] [not read]
11: Maths phrase 1 (a − b > c) "greater than" and "minus" "a [pause] b greater c" "a [pause] b greater c" "a [pause] b greater c" "a [pause] b greater c" "a [pause] b greater than c" "a [pause] b greater than c" "a [pause] b greater than c" "a [pause] b greater than c" a b c ("uh-bee-see") a b c ("uh-bee-see") a b c ("uh-bee-see") a b c ("uh-bee-see")
12: Maths phrase 1 (variation with dash) (a - b > c) "greater than" and "minus" "a dash b greater c" "a dash b greater c" "a dash b greater c" "a dash b greater c" "a [pause] b greater than c" "a [pause] b greater than c" "a [pause] b greater than c" "a [pause] b greater than c" a b c ("uh-bee-see") a b c ("uh-bee-see") a b c ("uh-bee-see") a b c ("uh-bee-see")
13: Maths phrase 2 (E = mc²) "squared" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" "e equals m c superscript two" e m c ("ee-em-see") e m c ("ee-em-see") e m c ("ee-em-see") e m c ("ee-em-see")

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