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Re: About ABBR

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 19:04:43 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>
Cc: thatch@us.ibm.com, WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 12:55 PM 2/18/2000 , Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
>as someone who has designed, constructed, and maintained web sites for educational, non-profit, and for-profit entities, i couldn't disagree more...  what is the extra expense entailed in adding ABBR or ACRONYM to page content?  this is the same argument that has traditionally kept ALT from being routinely deployed, despite the fact that it is a required attribute of IMG in HTML 4.0/4.01

Hi, Gregory, you know I love you and so I know you won't take this
the wrong way, but I'm going to have to disagree with a few points
and state that I think Jim Thatcher's points need to be considered

There -is- extra expense that would be involved in -- to use Ann
Navarro's example -- making sure that the HWG site uses ABBR 
consistently.  The costs, as I see them, would include:

      * The cost of deciding how and when to use ABBR, which is
        not trivial.  There's still not a consensus that I'm
        aware of that specifies when you need to use ABBR around
        a particular bit of text.

      * The cost of training my volunteers in how to use ABBR
        correctly; this is a time cost to both me and those web
        site volunteers.

      * The cost of reviewing our pages and finding places where
        ABBR should be used in accordance with our new policy; this
        means a full review of the entire site INCLUDING viewing
        source repeatedly, so it's not a trivial task and someone
        (me?) would have to do this.

      * The cost of actually making the changes to existing or
        new pages; this could be trivial or it could not be.  In
        the case of the HWG, we'd have to do a lot of work because
        we have a lot of pages that use abbreviations and acronyms

>your caution about being selective in what we ask for from content developers because of cost simply doesn't wash...  what we are actually doing is two-fold -- 1) asking content developers to design and implement with accessibility in mind, and 2) to compensate for the shortcomings of the existing technology upon which they are umbilically reliant, in particular, the well-documented shortcomings of authoring tools...

I agree that's what we're asking, but what you ask is too vague,
because it leaves -unanswered- some questions.

You say that they should "design and implement with accessibility
in mind" -- but to what extent?  To what degree is it necessary to
be "accessible" and what does that mean?  In my opinion it should be
based on whatever the content developers feel is acceptable, but
that requires content developers to be both sensitive to the needs
of people with disabilities (which is an education problem) and also
to be, themselves, experts on accessible web techniques so that
they can decide what to implement (also an education problem)!  In
short, you're asking them to be Gregory, or Kynn, or Jim Thatcher,
or Phill Jenkins, or Dick Brown -- all people who can rightly be
considered web accessibility experts, and note that we don't all
agree ourselves!

(As an aside, I identified the problems as education problems --
is it any wonder that I consider myself a web accessibility educator?
This is probably the right field to be in, there's quite a need
for it! *grin*)

>that is where the true expense lies -- in evaluation and repair, not in education and implementation...

But we -can't- dismiss that expense.  Note that even trained designers
who are experts in accessible design -- such as my wife, who ensures
that every page she creates can be used in all the AWARE Center lab's
browsers and can pass Bobby and WCAG single-A -- _must_ spend time
using evaluation and repair tools as part of the process.

She could skip checking it with Lynx, or pwWebSpeak, or JAWS+MSIE,
sure -- and that WOULD save costs.  The fact that she cares about
web accessibility -does- mean extra cost to our clients.  (But as I
explained before, nobody has complained and they all manage to see
the value inherent in that cost.  But there -is- a cost.)

>what do most web content providers learn when they take courses on web design/construction?  even at the most prestigious of educational institutions, they very rarely learn the grammar and syntax, they almost never learn the why behind the how, but are merely given an expensive introduction to a particular authoring tool's interface...

Hey, don't overgeneralize, the HTML Writers Guild's online classes
in web design include information on accessibility. :)  I guess that
just goes to prove that we're ABOVE the category of "most prestigious
of educational institutions." :) :) :)

>my argument isn't the only argument for implementing the accessibility features that PF has worked so diligently to get integrated into W3C promulgated markup languages, but it is one aspect of the broader solution -- endowing the greatest possible number of individuals with equivalent read AND write access to the web...

Gregory, you know I agree with you in principle, and in principle
something like ABBR should be widely implemented.  However, companies
-will- need to prioritize sometimes, and thus we can't afford to have
an "all or nothing" view of the web.  Sometimes they WILL need to draw
the line, and if we (the WAI, the AWARE Center, or just Gregory and
Kynn, general web goofballs) can clearly explain where, when, why, and
how to draw that line, I think it's useful.

Phill and Jim believe that the line can be drawn on this side of the
ABBR tag, because it's not widely supported.  You disagree -- but I
think the criteria they use to draw that line is appropriate.  You
(or even I) might draw the line differently, but we *have* to at
least look at it and not simply say "the principle is that we will
encourage everything that's Good and Proper even if it's currently
worthless."  That's a very quick way to turn off a lot of people who
otherwise would be willing to listen to us.

Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Friday, 18 February 2000 22:10:47 UTC

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