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RE: Checkpoint 3.7: Big Hurdle for Double-AA/Triple-AAA Compliance

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 12:26:10 -0400
Message-ID: <01BED509.901575A0.bbailey@clark.net>
To: "'Nir Dagan'" <nir@nirdagan.com>, Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Cc: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
I brought this whole subject up several months ago.  Check out URL:

The consensus of the group, at that time, was that curly quotes marks were 
not the domain of the WAI.  Of course, this was before WCAG!

Comments inline below. > is Nir Dagan, >> is Jason White

>> Does Unicode (or ISO 8859-1 which is what most older user agents
>> support) include distinct opening and closing single quotation marks?

> Unicode has the correct opening and closing quotation marks.
> So people can use them (e.g., with numerical character references).
> ISO-8859-1 doesn't have the marks used in English, but has of other
> languages.

Check out URL http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/latin1.html which has a 
nice overview of "Latin 1" characters in 8859-1 and Unicode with a note 
specifically on "Smart Quotes" (...#unicode).

Quick answer:

8859-1 does not support left and right quote marks, but Windows has 
co-opted the non-displayed characters from &#128; (x80) through &#159; 
(x9F) for its own purposes, and these include typographical quote marks and 
several other characters that Mac/PC users have taken for granted for years 
(dagger, emdash, (tm), etc.).

Unicode supports smart quotes (and much more), but the 3x versions of MS IE 
and 4x (!) version of Netscape Navigator do not display them.  The same is 
true for the named entities (&ldquo; ... &rdquo;) and for <Q> ... </Q> 
(which actually even have LESS support).

The most cross-platform-compatible way to get proper quote mark is with 
&#147; and &148; -- works on Mac and PC and with ALL browsers (and all 
versions) that I have tested.  You can point your browser to URL 
http://www.dors.state.md.us/test.html for five methods side-by-side.  BTW, 
the W3C validator DOES approve the use of &#147; and the like.

I would love to hear from someone to tell me if &#147; ... &#148; works 
with Un*x browsers.

I would love to hear from Braille users to tell me if &#147; ... &#148; 
translates properly.

I would also like to know how it is that Un*x users functioned for all 
these years without these common typographical characters!

> I think that the checkpoint should be split into
> "do not use BLOCKQUOTE for formatting" and
> "use Q for short quotations" (sorry for using neutral quots)

I agree with that!

> I think that everybody agrees on the first.

Boy, I hope so!

> Concerning the second, Using Q is better than
> hard coding the quot characters because
> 1. It is more informative (machine understandable)
> 2. More flexible rendering. May be affected by user's stylesheet.
> 3. Author doesn't have to bother in matching the quots, or choosing
> the correct ones when nesting (less room for errors).

> People who insist on backward compatibility will probably insist on
> using neutral quots, as both Q and Unicode character references
> are not supported in some browsers.

I disagree, since <Q> ... </Q> is not rendered properly by the CURRENT 
(major market) browsers and WILL NEVER be rendered properly by the older 
versions that will be in use for a few years yet!  This, IMHO, far out 
weights your (quite legitimate) points 1, 2, and 3.

&quot; is compatible, but it is just too ugly to tolerate.  As Jason points 
out, it is also carries less information.  For some populations, this is 
not merely a matter of aesthetics.

I intend to keep using &#147; ... &#148; for a while -- at least until I 
get some tool that will let me do a global search and replace on my site 
(yes, they exist now, but I only do this part time).  By then, I hope to be 
managing my site with a proper (i.e., generates accessible HTML) tool 
rather than one-page-at-a-time (as it is now).

>> Does anyone have a suggestion as to how this issue can best be resolved?

This is the only work around that I can think of that does not either loose 
the quote marks for the current GUI browsers or result in 
double-double-quotes marks with better (Lynx) and future (5x?) versions of 
the "big name" browsers.

1) Use a style sheet to render <Q>...</Q> as fancy *single* quote marks. 
 (Can one do this?)

2) Use code like this:  &#145;<Q>short quotation</Q>&#146;

This is machine readable, displays fine with HTML 4.0 compliant browsers, 
and okay (Gee, why is this author using only single quote marks?) in 
current browsers.

I have not tried this, and don't intend to. (smile)

Charles McCN's suggestion to use a style sheet to have text inside a <Q> 
render in italics (or whatever) is a good one, but that leaves me with a 
couple of questions.  Do style sheets for unsupported elements get applied 
by the current crop of browsers?  If not, and for older browsers in any 
case, does one still surround short quotes with &#147; ... &#148; ?

>> If not, I think the best solution would be to leave the requirement in
>> checkpoint 3.7 as is.

I also agree with this.
Received on Friday, 23 July 1999 12:46:55 GMT

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