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RE: [techs] Acronyms and abbreviations

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 11:34:50 +1000
Message-ID: <16552.5818.902258.785061@jdc.local>
To: "Jim Thatcher" <jim@jimthatcher.com>
Cc: "'John M Slatin'" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, "'Jens Meiert'" <jens.meiert@erde3.com>, <michaelc@watchfire.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Jim Thatcher writes:
 > - Provide the expansion of each acronym or abbreviation, in context
 > or in markup, the first time the acronym or abbreviation appears in any
 > form that users experience as a "page."

For the HTML techniques I think that might work, but for a dynamic
user interface in which there is no such thing as a "page" this
proposal wouldn't apply, and so we would need something more general
for the guidelines themselves. This is also a point at which a
requirement has to be set which both authoring tools and user agents
can meet consistently, otherwise the solution fails to work.

First define the problem: anyone encountering an unfamiliar acronym or
abbreviation may understand the text better, given the expansion of
the acronym or abbreviation. This assumes that the expansion is more
meaningful to the reader than the original acronym or abbreviation,
which is not always so. As an aside, I wonder to what extent all the
discussion of acronyms/abbreviations is attributable to the fact that
elements for them were included in HTML 4, and to what extent the
discussion reflects a genuine assessment of their relative importance
by comparison with other obstacles encountered by people who face
cognitive issues in accessing Web content.

The more general question is how to associate every "word" (i.e.,
every lexical element) in the content with a pertinent definition,
translation, etc. Acronyms/abbreviations are just a special case of
the larger problem, and probably a relatively minor example except in
technical documents that use acronyms/abbreviations extensively.
Received on Sunday, 16 May 2004 21:35:46 UTC

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