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usage of abbreviation tag


From: Ken Petri
Date: Sep 16, 2013 3:42PM

I've been doing some screen reader experiments on use of the abbr /
abbreviation tag. At this point, I've only worked with JAWS and NVDA in IE
and Firefox (latest versions, Windows 8) but it's been frustrating so far.

Here's what I'm hearing:

Nothing at all in NVDA, regardless of what I do.

Expansion in JAWS, only after I turn on "expand abbreviations" in

I could find no way in either screen reader to easily determine if an
abbreviation has an expansion.

One reason this is frustrating (and odd, I think) is that if I use AViewer
to inspect MSAA and/or IAccessible2, I can see that the title attribute is
being registered properly as both an accessible name and description in
both browsers.

I tried a number of other experiments using various techniques I thought
might work, but none does -- ARIA label, labelledby, describedby in various
combinations -- yet each registers as expected in MSAA and/or IAccessible2.

Here's a test page:
a little table experiment that uses the deprecated abbr attribute
-- JAWS still like this, NVDA not so much.)

Do I still emphasize to people the importance of using the abbr tag and
title attribute -- the problem is with the screen reader, not the HTML?
Does it work anywhere else (in VoiceOver on iOS/Mac)?
Is there some technique to make it work that I'm missing?
Are there techniques in NVDA and/or JAWS to inspect abbr element attributes
that I am unaware of?

Ken Petri