Tag Archives: toolbar

A framework that might help those developing Arabic software and websites.

Fadwa ALRowais is researching the use of a framework that is aimed at helping those  developing software in the Arabic language to be more aware of issues that might arise for those who have Dyslexia.  This is proving very helpful in general terms for those of us who do not speak, read or write the language.

Navigation features

aljazeera screengrabOne navigational requirement says: ” Ensure that data entry, ‎data display and navigation controls are ‎consistent in direction (for example, in ‎Arabic interface data entry ‎for ‎textual content should be from right to left, for numeric content from left ‎to right and navigation controls for the next screen should point towards ‎the left and for the previous screen point towards the right).‎

ATbar reset arrowShould the reset page icon on ATbar stay with an arrow heading left or should it be reversed as its intent is to send you back to an original look? 

Whilst work goes ahead to make the toolbar and its menus read from right to left we want to ensure that all icons are correct and are representative of their functions.

ATbar high contrast modeWhat happens when you linearise a web page for easier reading in Arabic – it should go from right to left but this will only happen if you are using the Arabic version of the ATbar. Reading ahead you will see some discussion about justification and this can be done via the CSS (Cascading Style sheet file) on the ATbar website and also under the colour changes plug-in.

Text to Speech issues

It has been hard to find a localised text to speech (TTS) engine as voices in Arabic appear to only exist in Standard Arabic and the language spoken on a daily basis differs from the language used in education and in formal writing.

Localisation apart there is also the concerns about the way the text is read not just the type of voice.  Whereas in English there are clear word margins and punctuation to help the TTS engine, in Arabic there are two types of spacing – the word boundary space and spaces that can occur within a word.  Accurate pausing and  intonation patterns are harder to achieve with synthesised voices in this case.

Website Content

Cultural aspects of the language that impact on help files and instructions  – There is the need to have separate dialogues for each gender because the Arabic language is a gender ‎specific language (for example, the word (‎رَسَمت‎) /rasamat/ which means ‎‎’draw’ is used to refer to the female, while the word (‎رَسَمَ‎) /rasama/ is used to ‎refer to the male).‎  In fact many sites use the male version, but this is something we need to consider when working on training materials in particular.

Fonts that are easy to read are important such as Arabic Transparent and Simplified Arabic Fixed, avoiding angular font types such as Koufi and Andalus.  In the case of the ATbar site Helvetica neue was chosen in sans serif style.  However, we have also been advised that whenever possible it is important to offer automatic diacritization so the ‎appearance ‎of ‎diacritics can be controlled with options for full ‎diacritics, ‎partial ‎diacritics and no diacritics.   The use of partial diacritics ‎with Arabic ‎script is better than ‎no diacritics,because those who are dyslexic may be depending on the diacritics for phonological assistance via their visual clues. An example of this occurs when discussing ‘tanween’ ‎‎/n/ formatted as ‎a diacritic, to ‎distinguish between root word ‎ending with letter ‘n’‎‏‎ ‎‏and ‎sound ‎‏/‏n‏/ ‏produced by ‎diacritics at ‎‏the ‎end of word ‎‏‎(‎for example‎: /‎n‎/ ‎at the ‎end of the word ‎‏‎(‎لُبْنَان‎) /loobnaan/ is different from /n/ at the ‎end of the ‎word ‎‎(‎لَيْلٌ‎) ‎‎‏/‏lailon/).‎

When it comes to Arabic text alignment the advice is to use right-justified or fully-justified ‎text. In ‎full-justified mode, Arabic orthographies use ‎connectors (kashida) elongating ‎specific characters of the cursive ‎script without producing extra white space ‎between words as in English texts. Fully-justified ‎Arabic text has been reported as ‎being useful for better recognition of letters and attached diacritics as ‎well as offering visual help when reading from right to ‎left and moving from top to bottom through ‎the lines.‎

We are hoping we can improve our web pages and the toolbar to illustrate as many of the guidelines as possible. More guidelines will follow as the framework is developed.  Thank you Fadwa.





Minutes from the meeting held on 11th July, 2011

A second meeting of the team was held on 11th July in Room 3005


Fadwa, E.A. Mike, Seb, John and Magnus attended the meeting with apologies from Mashael and Eedres (my fault as the email did not go out)


Question  – Should AT Bar logo remain the same? – It was decided until there is a discussion with the  Mada Center that the logo would remain the same.

ATbar Arabic layout

Layout in reverse with Arabic wording for the javascript tool tips. Fix the web heart will be removed

The individual icons were discussed and it was decided to leave them as they are for the moment whilst we await an evaluation from Qatar.  Seb is going to set up a web page with ATbar story board with Arabic text

Fadwa has made 2 versions of tooltips – with and without diacritic marks – A decision needs to be made as to which system is to be used for the entire project.  The lack of or inclusion of diacritic marks has an impact in different ways on different disabilities – which is preferred – with or without?

arabic menu with diacritics

There is a case for only having the diacritic marks on the important letters  – this has been shown to help users with the hidden short vowels.
arabic menu without diacritics

No diacritic marks


– Discussion around each task for Phase One.

FR-IW-01 – Begin work behind the scenes

FR-IW-02 – Fix the Web heart – Remove but consider for Arabic speaking volunteers in the future

FR-IW-03 – Text magnifier – no change

FR-IW-04 – Font changer – Fadwa has read papers on the subject of the best fonts for those who have reading difficulties – these will be added to the blog and we will reduce the number available to users based on the research findings.

FR-IW- 05 – Style Changer can be completed

FR-IW-06 – Spell Checker – Google appears to be closing their freely available services – this needs to be investigated

FR-IW -07 – Dictionary – see above – Wiktionary possibility with additional work

FR-IW -08 – Information for use – will be translated at a later date

FR-IW -09 – Restore Webpage – can be completed

FR-IW -10 – Close ATbar – can be completed

FR-IW -11 – ALT Tags – translation available above.

FR-IW -12 – ATbar information regarding bug tracking, fixes to be on GitHub.

FR-IW -13 – x64 bit installer – Due to be rebuilt with ATKit.

Follow up discussion with David Banes on 25th July

Next meeting to be confirmed due to holidays.

Welcome to ATbar

Image of atbar

The ATbar is a browser based option to aid accessibility of websites with the option to change the look and feel of webpages through text only enlargement, font style and colour changes plus increased line spacing.  There are also features for text to speech, a dictionary and spell checking.

The original toolbar was funded by JISC TechDis as an open source BSD licensed plug-in.  Fix the Web collaboration allowed for an additional element to be added to the toolbar – a small heart logo to the right of the ATbar logo.  Users of websites can report any issues with accessibility to the Fix the Web team for further checking so contact can be made with the developers.

To date the ATbar has had over 5 million uses with downloads occurring all over the world.  This has resulted in requests for versions in different languages and this blog is going to track the way the toolbar is being adapted to suit the Arabic language thanks to a grant from The Qatar Assistive Technology Center (Mada).