Thought I’d chime back in here with what I found, and my thinking on it.

  1. I agree with BTK that setting text as images is not always the best approach to books that in which it is important to communicate visual formatting to readers. I can see how this would be okay for something like a fixed-layout book or a whole poem with complicated typesetting, but in a book about proofreading (like the one I’m working on), the issue is less about the formatting of the text as a whole and more about the formatting of individual words and small phrases in line. For readers with at least some sight or with print disabilities (e.g., dyslexia) that do not affect their sight, I think it’s very important that the text be kept as text so that it is transformable in the same ways as the rest of the text. That being the case, the biggest accessibility issue for text attribute changes is that they don’t consistently come through on screen readers—so we need a screen-reader-specific fix that doesn’t interfere with the experience of readers not using screen readers. If I have that wrong, somehow, someone please set me straight.
  2. I have found that the tool-tip option (via the title element) doesn’t provide very good accessibility to screen reader users, as the Daisy knowledge base says, and it seems like making tool tips as accessible as possible is more work than it’s worth, especially for imperfect accessibility.
  3. What I’m really looking for is something akin to the experience of reading text in Microsoft Word with a screen reader that has its verbosity set to read text attribute changes. It sounds like this: “We are reading the book. Italics. Who Has Seen the Wind. Plain. by W.O. Mitchell.”
  4. I’ve found that you can manually include the attribute text in the body text of the book in a way that is only accessible to screen readers as follows:

Add the following style to the CSS

.sr-only {

clip: rect(1px, 1px, 1px, 1px);
clip-path: inset(50%);
height: 1px;
width: 1px;
margin: -1px;
overflow: hidden;
padding: 0;
position: absolute;

Apply it to your text:

<p>We are reading the book<span class=”sr-only”> italics </span><i>Who Has Seen the Wind</i><span class=”sr-only”> plain </span>by W.O. Mitchell.


The one thing I’m having trouble with is getting the screen reader to pause at “italics” and “plain.” I’ve tried inserting periods (e.g., <span class=”sr-only”>. Italics. </span>) which helps a bit, but not entirely. Any other suggestions?

a wooden table with a white keyboard on top, and a persons hand writing on a piece of paper

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