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Thread: Acronyms and abbreviations

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From: Jukka Korpela
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 12:10AM
Subject: Acronyms and abbreviations
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Holly Marie wrote:

> [2]How is the Acronym tag handled by readers?

This appears to be a separate topic, so I've changed the Subject line (from
"Separating links").

> <acronym title="Web Accessibliity Initiative">WAI</a>

The meaning of <acronym> is unclear, and this probably even relates to
browser wars. In English, according to WWWebster, an acronym is "a word (as
NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of
the successive parts or major parts of a compound term". But apparently many
people have seen <acronym> as suitable markup for various initialisms.

The accessibility implication is that an author should be _prepared_ to
having the contents of his <acronym> elements treated as _words_, e.g. as
regards to reading them. (But he shouldn't _rely_ on such things, of
course.) So the markup above suggest that "WAI" be read as "way", I suppose.

> Are all the
> readers giving the expansions on the acronyms or would it be best to
> write any sentence, like this ?
>
> Visit the Web Accessibility Initiative[WAI] pages for more
> information and tips.

We should certainly give explicit expansions for abbreviations and explicit
explanations for the origins of acronyms, if they are necessary or at least
very useful to users.

The title attributes are for "advisory titles" only. For hints that might or
might not be seen or heard. Apparently, they are basically for human
consumption. Any use by programs for purposes such as indexing or speech
synthesis is secondary. I think we'll get into trouble if we think that any
title attribute needs to act as specifying the way an an abbreviation is to
be read in speech synthesis. It is quite common that a user would benefit
from having an optional access to the expansion of an abbreviation like
"HTML" or "IETF" - but who would like to listen to speech where each
occurrence of such abbreviations is read as expanded?

On the practical side, expansions for abbreviations are often useful, except
perhaps for the most common ones. Such expansions can help e.g. elderly
people who have learned what an abbreviation means but have problems in
recollecting it. But explanations for acronyms are much less relevant and
can be confusing. Do people need to know what "radar" comes from, when the
word "radar" is used in some text? Does "NATO" need to be expanded?

(Recently I asked my ten-year old daughter to read a text I had written, so
that I could estimate its understandability. She asked me what "Euroopan
unioni" ("European union" in Finnish) means - but she had no difficulty
later in the text where I had used the abbreviation "EU". It happens that
abbreviations are better known that the expressions they come from - not to
mention similar phenomena with acronyms.)

--
Jukka Korpela
TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehitt

From: Holly Marie
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 6:43AM
Subject: Expansions, ALTs and [was]Re: Acronyms and abbreviations
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From: "Jukka Korpela"


| Holly Marie wrote:
|
| > [2]How is the Acronym tag handled by readers?
|
| This appears to be a separate topic, so I've changed the Subject line
(from
| "Separating links").
|
| > <acronym title="Web Accessibliity Initiative">WAI</a>

| We should certainly give explicit expansions for abbreviations and
explicit
| explanations for the origins of acronyms, if they are necessary or at
least
| very useful to users.
|
| The title attributes are for "advisory titles" only. For hints that
might or
| might not be seen or heard. Apparently, they are basically for human
| consumption. Any use by programs for purposes such as indexing or
speech
| synthesis is secondary. I think we'll get into trouble if we think
that any
| title attribute needs to act as specifying the way an an abbreviation
is to
| be read in speech synthesis. It is quite common that a user would
benefit
| from having an optional access to the expansion of an abbreviation
like
| "HTML" or "IETF" - but who would like to listen to speech where each
| occurrence of such abbreviations is read as expanded?

Well I am not sure if readers or speakers give any option of expand the
Acronym or not. I have read several articles and researched enough that
we work in Quite an Acronym heavy field or area. [huge smile]

Some acronyms actually stand for a few different things. Some acronyms
may be commonly known to us, but not so commonly know to the users who

[1] may not be net savvy and know the terms used on the Internet
[2] may be from another country or speak another language and the
language we are portraying may be a second language.
[3] encounter normal users and also challenged users that have some sort
of memory difficulty[another big smile, as that can be any user]

| On the practical side, expansions for abbreviations are often useful,
except
| perhaps for the most common ones.

Again, we have to be very careful, what is common to us? What may be
common to us, is not common to others.

|Such expansions can help e.g. elderly
| people who have learned what an abbreviation means but have problems
in
| recollecting it. But explanations for acronyms are much less relevant
and
| can be confusing. Do people need to know what "radar" comes from, when
the
| word "radar" is used in some text? Does "NATO" need to be expanded?

No, however, reading technical pieces or governmental web sites, for
whatever reason... these bodies - science, research, government, etc,
even WEB/Internet technologies use a Lot of acronyms. Sometimes, I have
to go to the handy http://www.whatis.com to figure out just what the
acronym means.

CVS, PCMCIA, CSS, CMS, .NET [are they referring to a domain extension or
the MS server solutions?]. Sometimes context will help here but not all
times. This may be even more frustrating to the non visual users.
Sighted users can scan and are not limited by the linear nature of a
reader or speech browser. So they can look around for other clues or
areas that may have a listing of definitions, etc. Or scan back a
paragraph or 3 and re read what was there.

| (Recently I asked my ten-year old daughter to read a text I had
written, so
| that I could estimate its understandability. She asked me what
"Euroopan
| unioni" ("European union" in Finnish) means - but she had no
difficulty
| later in the text where I had used the abbreviation "EU". It happens
that
| abbreviations are better known that the expressions they come from -
not to
| mention similar phenomena with acronyms.)


She might not, but again what about people with memory or recall
problems. People who have short term memory problems too?

Abbreviations - as far as I know [AFAIK another oft used acronym on the
Internet] - yet I would not count on everyone knowing what AFAIK
meant... Abbreviations may not have the support that acronyms are
offering right now and although it is not the best practise, I have even
seen where some suggest to use Acronym tags for Abbreviation expansions.

When quoting sources or using quoting tags, it is also often recommended
to put the Cite right in the tag? And this is another issue I wonder
about. Does that screen reader/speaker stop and read out that quoted
source and URL(universal resource locator) - outloud? before or after
the quoted material or excerpt? And how?

these are all good topics for discussion. And it reminds me of a
designer or developer that placed a definition of an image bullet for
each one of a list, where the "*" would have sufficed for the bullet
notation. Image description was not important to hear, may have been
annoying to the audio delivery, and should be explained a bit better to
those that are coding up web pages? I wonder if LI (list item tags)
could be reworked to include "*" as the alt, although there may in fact
be some situations where the alternative for the list item bullet image
needs to be described? If the image has text or numbers on it that is
important[steps, directions, etc], if the image carries a specific
additional meaning for the list item that follows.

however
diamond bullet image List item text entry 1.
diamond bullet image List item text entry 2.
diamond bullet image List item text entry 3.
... etcetera...

would better be delivered as
* List item text entry 1.
* List item text entry 2.
* List item text entry 3.
... etcetera...

or might ALT be left blank?
Will the reader/speaker deliver the items as list items without alt
descriptions and in the form alt="" ?

holly



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From: Holly Marie
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 6:55AM
Subject: Re: Expansions, ALTs and [was]Re: Acronyms and abbreviations
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Holly Marie"

| When quoting sources or using quoting tags, it is also often
recommended
| to put the Cite right in the tag? And this is another issue I wonder
| about. Does that screen reader/speaker stop and read out that quoted
| source and URL(universal resource locator) - outloud? before or after
| the quoted material or excerpt? And how?

Maybe the print style guide methods are really a better in this case. So
is that inside attribute for Citing good or not?
Using footnotes to quoted material [not the best method for Internet]
Placing the source immediately following such quoted material [possibly
better, in case a document or text is not printed in full context]

And then a Visual user could have access to this information, upon
visually reading or printing the material.

holly



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From: Ineke van der Maat
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 9:32AM
Subject: Re: Acronyms and abbreviations
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Hello Jukka,

I always use the acronym and abbr tag every time I can use it. It gives also sighted users the information what the abbrevation is meaning. Mozilla underlines abbrevations and acronyms, Opera shows a tooltip clicking the mouse on it and in IE 55 only shows acronyms as tooltip.

I don't know why the difference between an acronym and an abbreviation is so difficult to understand... I saw that the W3C even does not understand it completely.. ..

Of course you have to expand NATO. Dutch television is often using the whole word, not the abbreviation.. and perhaps in more countries this is the case. I think the whole world makes more clearly what is meant.. (I don 't like abbreviations for that reason so much)

I also put changes to another language different from the main language in a title attribute ,that is showed as a tootip when you click on it with the mouse. When people don't understand what is written in a foreign language they can search in the correct dictionary and speechreaders announce also the language of the coming words...
My opinion is the more information you can give the users of your site, the better they will understand what you are talking about....

All these things I always explain in "sitepolicy"... so all the users can have benefit of it..

Cheers
Ineke van der Maat


Jukka wrote:
>
> We should certainly give explicit expansions for abbreviations and explicit
> explanations for the origins of acronyms, if they are necessary or at least
> very useful to users.
>
> The title attributes are for "advisory titles" only. For hints that might or
> might not be seen or heard. Apparently, they are basically for human
> consumption. Any use by programs for purposes such as indexing or speech
> synthesis is secondary. I think we'll get into trouble if we think that any
> title attribute needs to act as specifying the way an an abbreviation is to
> be read in speech synthesis. It is quite common that a user would benefit
> from having an optional access to the expansion of an abbreviation like
> "HTML" or "IETF" - but who would like to listen to speech where each
> occurrence of such abbreviations is read as expanded?
>
> On the practical side, expansions for abbreviations are often useful, except
> perhaps for the most common ones. Such expansions can help e.g. elderly
> people who have learned what an abbreviation means but have problems in
> recollecting it. But explanations for acronyms are much less relevant and
> can be confusing. Do people need to know what "radar" comes from, when the
> word "radar" is used in some text? Does "NATO" need to be expanded?
>
> (Recently I asked my ten-year old daughter to read a text I had written, so
> that I could estimate its understandability. She asked me what "Euroopan
> unioni" ("European union" in Finnish) means - but she had no difficulty
> later in the text where I had used the abbreviation "EU". It happens that
> abbreviations are better known that the expressions they come from - not to
> mention similar phenomena with acronyms.)
>
> --
> Jukka Korpela
> TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehitt

From: Sam Buchanan
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 2:07PM
Subject: Re: Acronyms and abbreviations
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Ineke van der Maat wrote:
> I don't know why the difference between an acronym and an
> abbreviation is so difficult to understand... I saw that the W3C
> even does not understand it completely.. ..

Probably because people often think of abbreviations as being
something like "lbs." or "St." I know I do. For what it's worth, this
message on a W3C list cleared up the issue for me:

http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-html/1998Feb/0029.html


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From: jebs webs
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 2:56PM
Subject: RE: Acronyms and abbreviations
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Let me add to the confusion...

If you have a reference on a page that provides the description and then the
abbreviation/acronym in brackets as part of the text of the page, does one
have to add the <ABBR> tags?

Example:

"The suspect was taken into custody by agents of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI)..."

I am retrofitting a site that has many references of this sort and it would
save me a lot of time if I did not have to change them all.

Many thanks...

John E. Brandt
Augusta, ME 04330

= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
home.earthlink.net/~jbrandt04330






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From: Paul Bohman
Date: Thu, Mar 28 2002 3:12PM
Subject: RE: Acronyms and abbreviations
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We're getting into areas for which there is no official documentation
anywhere (that I'm aware of). I've heard different opinions on this
issue. My opinion is this: if you provide the expansion of the acronym
in the context of the main text, there is no need to supply an <acronym>
tag.

If you put the acronym tag in contexts such as these, some screen
readers will read the expanded version rather than the acronym, so users
will hear:

"Federal Bureau of Investigation (Federal Bureau of Investigation)"

In this context, the purpose of the acronym (to provide a shortened
version) is defeated.

Paul Bohman
Technology Coordinator
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
www.webaim.org
Center for Persons with Disabilities
www.cpd.usu.edu
Utah State University
www.usu.edu




-----Original Message-----
From: jebs webs [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ]

If you have a reference on a page that provides the description and then
the
abbreviation/acronym in brackets as part of the text of the page, does
one
have to add the <ABBR> tags?

Example:

"The suspect was taken into custody by agents of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI)..."


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