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@Luke / @Sheila: Since the definition of the <b> element changed in HTML5 (it has become a way to mark â€œstylistically offsetâ€ text), it seems like a good fit in this case.
In my experience, no modern screen reader is affected by <b>, <i>, <strong> or <em> with normal settings. Older screen readers may have announced <strong> and <em> elements, but in latest versions of JAWS you needs to be in Proofreading mode for these elements to affect the speech output. While I think this is wrong â€“ I’d expect at least <strong> or <em> to affect the output by default â€“ I don’t think it would ever be right for <b> elements to effect speech output, HTML5 or otherwise. The <i> element is a different matter, since it can be used to indicate a change in language in HTML5.