Re: Brainstorming - abbreviations

Colin Lieberman schreef:
> My question is, how much control should authors have here, and how much of the task is given to the makers of screen readers? What about abbreviations like 'ph' for phone? "Contact us: ph: 111 222 333, fax: 111 333 222" for example. What about ambiguities like <span lang="es">Sr.</span> versus <span lang="en">Sr.</span>, which have differnt meanings and different pronounciations? Or ambiguities like nm, which can be nautical miles or nano meters?

That is not an issue that doesn’t exist anyway; if I visit a Dutch 
web-page, my screen reader had better detect it and not put on its 
‘English voice’, because then I wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails 
of it. It needs to have a different voice and different pronunciation 
rules depending on the language of the page, so it can obviously also 
have a corresponding language-specific abbreviation list.

> Among other uses, I think one of the main points is so that everybody can approach the text on equal footing: When sighted readers come accross abbreviations in context, we don't think about the meaning. Why should a user of a screen reader have to take the time to figure out what's written just because his software didn't have a certain letter combination in its lookup tables?
> I think if the markup could have the ability to make text flow better for screen reader users, it should.

Except that it doesn’t work, because 99% of the websites doesn’t add 
that markup anyway, so while the user might be glad that that one blog 
he visits has its abbreviations marked up properly, on any other site it 
will still be pronounced wrong.

I honestly don’t see the problem with maintaining a list of 
abbreviations. Just pluck it off the internet, or one of the many 
dictionary files out there. And if they don’t know it, they can either 
read out the full title (title="nanometer") or provide a way for the 
user to tell it what it should do. I mean, if you get spell checking 
software, you can also add words it doesn’t know to the dictionary. And 
automated translating software too provides a means to add words, and 
even indicate in what way they are used (noun, name, etc). It’s not like 
it’s an exotic feature. And it’s a fairly painless process to do so.

I mean, this is ****ing expensive software we’re talking about (pardon 
my language), which has to work its ways around various linguistic 
problems. Abbreviations seem to be one of the lesser problematic ones, 
and they have budget to solve it. People pay for these problems to be 
solved by their software, and those companies are not going to depend on 
that 99% of the web suddenly getting enlightenment and starting to add 
<abbr> tags to their web pages for their solution.


Ushiko-san! Kimi wa doushite, Ushiko-san nan da!!
Laurens Holst, student, university of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Website: Backbase employee;

Received on Thursday, 15 March 2007 23:43:07 UTC