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This post is part of my Today I learned series in which I share all my web development learnings.

Semantic HTML is the foundation of accessible websites. Correct and meaningful elements enable assistive technology to provide a site's information in a different form or shape. A screen reader, for example, takes a site and reads it out for the visitor. These cases show why semantic HTML matters!

And yet here I am after all these years of advocating for using strong (strong importance, seriousness, or urgency) and em (stress emphasis) instead of b (bold) and i (idiomatic text – italic), only to learn that screen readers don't announce strong or em.

And while I'm not a daily screen reader user, and VoiceOver isn't the only one out there, a quick test on my Mac proves it.

Screen reader example not announcing strong or em elements.

Martin Underhill shares more resources on his blog if you want to learn more.

Edit: Steve Faulkner shared that some screen readers have a "style reporting" option which can convey additional information. This setting is far off the default, though.

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Stefan standing in the park in front of a green background

About Stefan Judis

Frontend nerd with over ten years of experience, freelance dev, "Today I Learned" blogger, conference speaker, and Open Source maintainer.

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