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Expansions, ALTs and [was]Re: Acronyms and abbreviations


From: Holly Marie
Date: Mar 28, 2002 6:43AM

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
| "Separating links").
| > <acronym title="Web Accessibliity Initiative">WAI</a>

| We should certainly give explicit expansions for abbreviations and
| explanations for the origins of acronyms, if they are necessary or at
| 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
| 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
| from having an optional access to the expansion of an abbreviation
| "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,
| 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
| recollecting it. But explanations for acronyms are much less relevant
| can be confusing. Do people need to know what "radar" comes from, when
| 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
| unioni" ("European union" in Finnish) means - but she had no
| later in the text where I had used the abbreviation "EU". It happens
| 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.

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="" ?


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