WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: WCAG 2 draft and abbreviations


From: Peter Weil
Date: May 31, 2007 11:30AM

On May 31, 2007, at 11:25 AM, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:

> It's mostly futile. The important things are
> a) to avoid abbreviations
> b) to explain them loud and clear in content proper if you use them.

> If you _cannot_ control the content, you cannot be held responsible
> for
> its accessibility or other qualities. If you just _don't_, it's a
> different matter.

I can feel some of that futility, but I do want to explore what, if
anything, web developers can do. I'm not so much concerned with being
held responsible as I am with coding the content in a way that might
help readers comprehend it more easily. Our writers are essentially
print writers, and it's up to us (the web team) to translate the copy
into the most effective (and accessible) html we can.

>> We all agree that including tags with expansions or explanations is
>> the best technique currently available
> No we don't. Tagging abbreviations is virtually useless, and partly
> harmful (e.g., when it creates an enigmatic "dotted underline"). I
> thought
> this was fairly well known about people who actually aim at
> accessibility.

By "we" I meant my colleagues and I. Honestly, I have not heard or
seen much about tagging abbreviations as 'harmful'.

> There is no evidence on the usefulness of such markup. If a user
> needs an
> explanation for an expression - be it a special symbol, a difficult
> word,
> or an abbreviation - it is certainly a bad idea to hide such
> information
> inside an attribute, instead of making it available and accessible
> to all.

I don't know whether this is true or not. I thought that adding the
title attribute to these tags is supposed to make the information
available, not hide it.

Peter Weil, Web Developer
University Communications
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Phone: 608-262-6538