WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Analyzing <abbr> solutions


From: Penny Roberts
Date: Mar 25, 2006 6:00AM

Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> 1. People with various cognitive impairments may benefit from being able
> to expand an acronym or abbreviatioin.
> 2. People who might have problems navigating a document easily may not
> be able to easily find the acronym or abbreviation.
> These are likely valid (although we'd need actual concrete data on user
> patterns to determine if these really represent user scenarios that
> happen), so the next question becomes "how do we address these?"

Sadly it seems we run into the old problem: there doesn't seem to be
much research going on. I've been looking on various databases (e.g.
Medline and PsychInfo) but so far have found very little to go on. Of
course the problem as with all literature searching is knowing what
keywords are likely to be relevant.
If I find anything I'll certainly post it but I won't be around for a
few days so don't expect anything yet.

> Using the screenreader example, this may be case of user agent support.

Indeed: and isn't that also a perennial problem? So much of what is
discussed on here boils down to: user agents don't fully support this so
we can't do it; or user agents should be doing this so we shouldn't
provide workarounds.

> Large problems can result when the expectation is that all acronyms and
> abbreviations must be provided with expanded forms via <abbr>, including
> the fact that it greatly increases the size of the text.

OK, I agree that page size should be kept to a minimum but is that an
accessibility problem? I can see that it is a problem if it adds to the
actual screen length: it means more to navigate through; but is the
additional download time also an accessibility problem (I'm not trying
to argue here, I genuinely want to know)?