This document is an English translation of the “freee Accessibility Guidelines.” The normative version of this document is in Japanese, and the English version is informational. The English translation is incomplete, and any links with their link texts left in Japanese are untranslated. Please be aware that there may be inaccuracies in the translation or parts that are outdated.

There Are Kanji Or English Words That Are Read in an Unexpected Way by Screen Readers

Last Updated: December 5, 2023

Tags: Screen Reader

Question / Problem

There are kanji or English words that are read in an unexpected way. How should I deal with it?


  • “寡婦” is read as “やもめふ” instead of “かふ”

  • “配偶者” is read as “はいたましゃ” instead of “はいぐうしゃ”

  • “折り畳む” is read as “おりりたたみむ” instead of “おりたたむ”

Answer / Conclusion

  • There is no need to deal with it in particular.

  • However, if there is a high possibility of causing misunderstanding, such as being perceived as the opposite meaning, consider dealing with it.


It is common for screen readers to misread kanji or English words.

Screen readers have a function to read one character at a time or read it together with a description of the character, such as “『にっぽん』の『にち』”. Even if it is read incorrectly, users can use these functions to check the notation.

How a screen reader reads some text depends on the product and version of the screen reader and the speech synthesis engine used. Even if it is read correctly in a particular environment, it may not be read correctly in another environment. If you force how the text is read by writing in hiragana, the original kanji notation may be lost, or it may be read in a form different from the original accent, or the braille translation may not be done correctly, making it difficult for the user to understand the meaning. For the above reasons, there is no problem with leaving the misreading of kanji by the screen reader as it is. By trying to deal with it forcibly, there is a risk of causing a bigger problem.

However, if the way it is read makes it look like a completely different meaning, you need to be careful. It is better to write the reading in parentheses or review the notation.

Example: “売” and “買” are both read as “ばい”, so write “売り” and “買い” instead.