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Re: Regarding the <abbr> tag

From: <Wesley.Upchurch@semcoinc.com>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 08:17:03 -0600
To: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OFE151A245.4D57C9B5-ON862573DA.004B9DE3-862573DA.004EA3A9@semcoinc.com>
After responding to Susan in the Public HTML Comments,  I had more time to 
think about the issue she brought up.  I'm offering the following 
suggestion and thoughts to help solve the problem.

Wouldn't it make more sense if the <abbr> tag used the alt attribute in 
addition to the title attribute?  I'm suggesting this because I think that 
the use of the title attribute should provide a tooltip to the user to 
define the acronym, but the alt tag should provide an alternative to the 
abbreviation or acronym (sometimes articles like a and then would be 
necessary to make the sentence make sense to viewers requiring accessible 
browsers).  I thought this would provide better compatibility with screen 
readers and braille browsers which may need to display the 
acronym/abbreviation in full for reasons detailed below.

Otherwise, I might make sense to add a type attribute to the <abbr> tag as 
Susan suggested.  Even better might be to create a <acron> tag (or 
something similar) to use for acronyms and keep the <abbr> tag for 
abbreviations.  Of course both of the suggestions in this paragraph are 
not really necessary if the <abbr> tag provides both a title and an alt 

That way my first example from below would read as follows:

<abbr title="National Aeronautics and Space Administration" alt="The 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration">NASA</abbr> will be 
launching a rocket in July.

Thanks for your thoughts and considerations in advance.

Wesley Upchurch


From: <Wesley.Upchurch@semcoinc.com> 
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 12:18:36 -0600
To: public-html-comments@w3.org 
According to the latest working draft: "The abbr element represents an 
abbreviation or acronym. The title attribute should be used to provide an 
expansion of the abbreviation. If present, the attribute must only contain 

an expansion of the abbreviation." 

It is my opinion (as opposed to that of the Working Group as a whole), 
that the title attribute serves the purpose of accessibility regardless of 

whether the text in the <abbr> tag is an abbreviation or an acronym, by 
defining the full meaning of it (which could be displayed on braille 
output devices, instead of the standard text, similar to how ALT tags work 

with images).

To demonstrate this point I'm giving you an example of both an 
abbreviation and an acronym:

<abbr title="The National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
">NASA</abbr> will be launching a rocket in July.
We will meet on <abbr title="August">Aug</abbr> 1, 2008.

Notice that both of these would make sense to someone utilizing a screen 
reader or braille browser. 

In addition to the title tag making it unnecessary for to differentiate 
between abbreviations or acronyms, it is my also personal opinion that 
such a attribute wasn't included in HTML 5 because HTML is designed to 
describe the semantics of a document regardless of the language the 
document is written in.  The fact that contracted English braille has 
different rules for translating abbreviations and acronyms is specific to 
braille in the English language is probably another reason for not 
including such an attribute.

Hope this helps.

Wesley Upchurch

From: Susan Jolly <easjolly@ix.netcom.com> 
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 13:45:49 -0700
To: <public-html-comments@w3.org> 
Message-ID: <E1JHPys-0002Ei-8E@elasmtp-junco.atl.sa.earthlink.net> 

Contracted English braille has different rules for translating the items 
calls abbreviations and the items it calls acronyms. I don't want to start
yet another discussion of the differences between abbreviations, acronyms,
initialisms and so forth.  However, at the very least the <abbr> element
should have an optional attribute for identifying the type of 
Having to parse the value of the title attribute to make this 
would be undesirable at best and might not always produce the desired

Susan Jolly
Received on Thursday, 24 January 2008 14:19:24 UTC

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