[Clients] Gemini and accessibility regarding preformatted code blocks

Devin Prater r.d.t.prater at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 20:29:04 GMT 2021


Answers inline:
Devin Prater
r.d.t.prater at gmail.com



> On Feb 25, 2021, at 2:14 PM, John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org> wrote:
> 
> 
> 
> On Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 2:42 PM Devin Prater <r.d.t.prater at gmail.com <mailto:r.d.t.prater at gmail.com>> wrote:
>  
> I am a blind person who is interested in all kinds of different ways of working with text and writing.
> 
> Thank you very much for participating: accessibility is always best discussed when a person who needs it is actually in the room.  ("If you want to know how much antisemitism there is in your country, don't ask yourself: ask a Jew.")
> 
> My previous employer sold its software to a lot of government sites.  Walei Sabry, the New York City Digital Accessibility Coordinator, came into our office for half a day and talked about how we should and shouldn't do things.  He also demonstrated his screen reader JAWS for us (none of us could understand a single word it said).  It was hugely useful and gave us programmers accessibility tasks for the next month.
Fortunately, text-to-speech engines have progressed a lot since 2001 or so. Except JAWS /still/ uses a robotic voice (ETI Eloquence) because blind people are used to it. :)

> So, I started looking at the spec for GemText. Links one on each line, I could do that. No italics or bold, but people are used to seeing *this* anyways, or even /this/ for better ergonomics (for me anyways)
> 
> Is that because "slash" has one syllable and "asterisk" has three?  Just guessing here, but please tell us what works/doesn't work for you, or point to a suitable "accessibility 101" site.
Nah, slash is just easier to press than Shift + 8. I meant ergonomic as in easy to type. Although, “slash" is spoken more quickly than “asterisk", but most TTS engines say “star” anyway. It’s not significant, and is definitely up to the writer’s choice of style.

> So, this is where client creators come in. Gemini clients should have a way to hide preformatted blocks, or fold them, or if they are a GUI client, like GemiNaut, which shows the Gemini text in n HTML-like area, map the blocks to a frame, so that screen readers can skip them.
> 
> I think that most preformatted blocks are meant to be readable.  How about an option to hide preformatted blocks if and only if they have alt text?  That, plus social pressure to actually *provide* alt text, even if it's just "ascii art" or "ascii art kittens", should do it.
> 
The problem is that screen readers *cannot* read Ascii art in any meaningful way, so having the option to hide those blocks by default would really help. If clients really wanted to be smart, grab a list of language short codes from Github or something and show blocks with those language ID’s, like:

``` Python
…
```

Would be shown, but:

``` Best widdle kitten ever
…
```

wouldn’t. But that’s just something I’ve thought of when thinking about how to work around preformatted blocks that would be meaningful to a screen reader user, like code, and those which wouldn’t be, like Ascii art.


> 
> 
> John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan <http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan>        cowan at ccil.org <mailto:cowan at ccil.org>
> I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them
> alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag
> went over me.  I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am
> Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.  --Bilbo to Smaug

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