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Probably the best solution for the screen reader problem is assigning the icons to the <a href=“http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/block/supplementary_private_use_area_a/index.htm”>supplementary private use area</a> blocks of unicode.

This is what Florent suggested in my <a href=“http://forrst.com/posts/Which_characters_are_not_read_by_screen_readers-rsy”>forrst post</a> regarding which characters are never read by screen readers.

I have not tried this and I’m not sure if there are any browser issues; but if it works, I will upgrade my <a href=“http://keyamoon.com/icomoon/”>icon font generator</a> to use these supplementary characters.