WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: ABBR vs. just spelling it out.


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Mar 30, 2006 2:40PM

On Thu, 30 Mar 2006, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> - - the point of MOST acronyms and abbreviations is
> that you DON'T need to know what it stands for, you need to know what
> it means.

Indeed. And acronyms and abbreviations are just one part of expressions
that pose problems to many people. Special symbols, identifiers (often of
abbreviation origin, but e.g. the identifier "m" for "meter" is not to be
treated as an abbreviation), foreign words, technical terms, and common
words in uncommon meanings (often as a matter of terminology) are often
much more difficult than widely known abbreviations. Here, too, the point
is that people need to know the meaning, not the etymology (though the
etymology may sometimes help to understand the meaning).

> E.g., knowing that WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility
> Guidelines created by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) doesn't tell
> you as much as saying "WCAG is a set of guidelines for making your web
> site more accessible."

Moreover, if the text is in a language other than English and readers or
listeners know English just a little (or not at all), spelling out the
expression may not help at all. Admittedly, the expansion sometimes helps
to explain the meaning to some extent to some audiences, but that is a
judgement call and must be decided by the author.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/