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Re: Acronyms


From: Terence de Giere
Date: Feb 20, 2003 9:10AM

Some assistive technology renders an abbreviation or acronym as you have
described. The underlying support of a browser for these HTML elements
is needed first if a screen reader is to process them, and then the
screen reader needs to be able to work with the browser to extract the
information from the TITLE attribute of the desired element.

Older screen readers that just process what the browser prints to the
screen will not see the ABBR and ACRONYM elements. For example, although
less common now, if the Lynx text browser is used with a screen reader,
because it does not display ABBR or ACRONYM text, this information will
not be presented to the user. I tired IBM Home Page Reader with ABBR and
ACRONYM and it did not process the TITLE. (By the way, this is the
software that renders '#' as 'sharp' rather than as number - this is a
property of the underlying speech synthesis software used). The legacy
audio browser pwWebSpeak does render the TITLE and follows it with an
often mispronounced version of the actual acronym or abbreviation.

I do not have a screen reader installed at this time. I could not find
anything in the JAWS documentation about rendering the TITLE attribute
of ABBR and ACRONYM elements - maybe someone else on the forum has dealt
with this issue more recently and could add a point to this discussion.
Internet Explorer, does not support the ABBR element. A work around for
this can be found at http://www.sovavsiti.cz/css/abbr.html

Fully written out words are the only way to get good results with all
technology, so ideally a web page should display the meaning of an
acronym or abbreviation on its first occurrence. Example acronym:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); example
abbreviation: Social Security Number (SS#). I seem to recall in the
archives of the WebAim forum should be some discussion of the difference
between an acronym and an abbreviation. This is a subject that still
confuses me. An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a
name, such as *radar* (*ra*dio *d*etecting *a*nd *r*anging). However a
lot of 'acronyms' found today do not make pronounceable words. IBM is
really I.B.M. which to me is an abbreviation. If you have to say the
letters individually, it is probably an abbreviation.
Michael Roush < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

This is a tangent issue. If I use "SS#" on my page, but enclose it in an
"acronym" tag with the appropriate attribute to say "Social Security
Number", will any screen readers render the acronym as well as/instead
of the text?

Terence de Giere

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