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Re: abbreviations


From: Jared Smith
Date: May 28, 2010 10:36AM

On Fri, May 28, 2010 at 8:34 AM, Denis Boudreau wrote:

> So anytime the given abbreviation or acronym is encountered in the page, even if it wasn't tagged, the tools used could refer to that buffer memory and give out the extended meaning.

Precisely! However, to reduce repetition, screen readers should only
read the extended meaning the first time it is encountered anywhere
within the document, even if that occurrence is not the one that is
actually marked up. This way you could fully expand in text the first
instance and then provide the <acronym title="whatever"> or <abbr
title="whatever"> at any other single instance. This would adequately
address the major issues we've discussed.

Of course this doesn't work with many acronyms, such as AT. How would
a screen reader know that it is the acronym AT versus the word "at"
(or AIDS or aids)? In this case, I argue that simply
<acronym>AT</acronym> (without title) would identify acronyms which
are expanded elsewhere in the document. It's stupid simple for user
agents to reference the title attribute value of this acronym
elsewhere in the document.

This is exactly what I recommended when we discussed this a year ago -
http://webaim.org/discussion/mail_thread.php?thread=3805#post11 Of
course, like many things in accessibility, this only works if screen
readers adopt this behavior, which isn't terribly likely.

You do want to avoid things like...
<acronym title="Assistive Technology">AT</acronym> (Assistive Technology)

If a screen reader is set to read the acronym titles, they would hear
"Assistive Technology (Assistive Technology)" with no indication as to
what the actual acronym is. For this reason, I recommend expanding in
text in the first instance and with <acronym> or <abbr> in the next or
next most significant instance.