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Re: Question about HTML abbr and acronym tags

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 18:47:54 +0200
Message-ID: <029101c85216$379c2fc0$0400000a@DOCENDO>
To: <www-html@w3.org>

Martin Kliehm wrote:

> Getting rid of ABBR or ACRONYM altogether like Jukka proposes is like
> the HTML 5 Working Group's argument to drop alternative text for
> images for the reason that people are too stupid to use them
> properly.

No it isn't. The alt attribute, though related to poor design of HTML 
(the <img> element was just a kludge from the beginning, and restricting 
the alternative content to plain text was a bad choice), is fairly 
well-defined and reasonably consistently supported, as well as widely 
used, with provable benefits. The <abbr> and <acronym> tags lack _all_ 
of this. To begin with, what _is_ an acronym and what is an 
abbreviation? The specifications are self-contradictory, not just 
obscure.

> OK, so we need a clear definition and better outreach and education.

No, there is no proven need for those tags in the first place.

> People actually benefit from those elements and attributes.

That's what some people keep saying, with little if any evidence, as 
regards to <abbr> and <acronym>.

If you write about WAI and use <abbr title="Web Accessibility 
Initiative">WAI</abbr>, who will benefit from it? Only a small fraction 
will see or hear the explanation, and what makes you think it's good for 
them? Compare this with writing "WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative)". 
Much simpler. _Much_ more accessible. No special support needed.

> Even if
> they only represent a small fraction of the users, and even if only a
> fraction of developers and manufacturers do it right, for them it is
> not a matter of a fraction, but a binary decision: 100% access, or
> access denied.

Not at all. As an author, you have the option of explaining your 
acronyms and abbreviations and special symbols. Throwing in some <abbr> 
and <acronym> tags does not help here; instead, it keeps you busy doing 
some pointless pseudo-work.

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ 
Received on Tuesday, 8 January 2008 16:47:39 GMT

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