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RE: About ABBR

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2000 22:48:54 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: "Wayne Crotts" <wcrotts@ARCHES.UGA.EDU>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, wayne!

i respect your honesty and forthrightness, so let me respond in kind...

in any other medium, it would be considered a sign not of sloppiness, but 
rank incompetence and indifference, for an author NOT to expand an acronym 
the first time it is introduced to the reader...  why then, should the web 
be exempt from this rule of thumb, simply because it takes a few calories 
on the part of the author to (1) think of the correct expansion and (2) a 
few keystrokes to enclose the term in an ACRONYM?

i don't know from whence you drew your conclusion that i am indulging in 
such fallacious rhetoric that it threatens to undermine the work of the 
WAI, either...  all i have done is (a) encourage others to use ACRONYM and 
ABBR, (b) asked that the priority level accorded ACRONYM and ABBR be raised 
in WCAG, and (c) asked authoring tool and user agent developers to support 

so how exactly am i undermining the web accessibility initiative, 
wayne?  by asking too much?  is it really asking too much to expect 
authoring tools to support ALL of the elements and attributes defined for 
the markup languages they claim to support?  is it too much to ask that 
user agents to support their expansion?

what is being asked for here isn't something esoteric, but basic -- and 
elemental to the broadest possible dissemination of information...   in 
that light, failure to use ACRONYM is not only poor design, it is poor 

and yes, while i realize that this is a forum specifically oriented towards 
questions of accessibility, the expansion of acronyms and abbreviations is 
not merely an accessibility issue, but an internationalization and general 
usability issue...

so, if tying all 3 together undermines the work of the WAI, damn the 
torpedos, full speed ahead!

At 02:12 PM 2/19/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Kynn is dead on.  Forgive, me for not being as kind in my rhetoric as Kynn
>is, -- but here goes-- just note I mean no ill will-- it is the ideas that I
>find objection to.
>The unspoken issue in this thread is the question as to if  an individual or
>group can suddenly insist on a standard that is vague and a value whose
>importance is more in the eye of the beholder than as to if it helps make a
>page accessible or not accessible.
>Such insistence  is negating and ridiculing good faith actions of many
>trying to write accessible pages.  One could have written a page that is
>very much accessible, without using ABBR and ACRONYM---   Now, for one to
>suddenly cry 'foul' wreaks of malicious conduct, and destroys much of the
>favorable reputation, the accessibility folks have worked hard to obtain.
>Quite simply, the insistence that ABBR and ACRONYM be used, is silly. The
>argument that it won't cost anything is even more foolish rhetoric.  Quite
>simply, implementation of changes means an expenditure in resources -- to
>say otherwise however noble in intentions, is a lie.
>  Should ABBR and  ACRONYM be considered_- sure; should guidelines as to
>their use, be elaborated on-- very much so;  - but INSISTENCE  on their
>implementation with the fictitious rhetoric it will not cost the company
>anything to do so, is preposterous. If you want to go ahead and call such a
>view as one unconcerned for web accessibility-- you may.  However, it does
>not change the facts.
>Athens, GA
>-----Original Message-----
>From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On Behalf
>Of Kynn Bartlett
>Sent: Friday, February 18, 2000 10:05 PM
>To: Gregory J. Rosmaita
>Cc: thatch@us.ibm.com; WAI Interest Group Emailing List
>Subject: Re: About ABBR
>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
>         extensively.
> >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/

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
      -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Saturday, 19 February 2000 22:39:41 UTC

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