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RE: Question on <abbr /> element use

From: Yvette P. Hoitink <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 15:56:57 +0100
To: "'Jens Meiert'" <jens.meiert@erde3.com>, "'WAI WCAG List'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <E1Aw0T8-0004be-Eg@smtp2.home.nl>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org 
> [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jens Meiert
> Sent: woensdag 25 februari 2004 15:26
> To: Yvette P. Hoitink
> Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
> Subject: RE: Question on <abbr /> element use
> Hi Yvette,
> > How would you define the first time an abbrev occurs? The 
> first time 
> > on a page? [...]
> exactly.
> > [...] This means we advise to always use the ABBR element 
> to explain 
> > the meaning of abbreviations, even if they appear more than 
> once on a 
> > single page.
> Well, a quite reasonable argumentation. Is this also 
> recommended for other media, e.g. when I print these 
> documents? -- Another problem I see here is if there are many 
> abbrevations on a page, ain't it regarded rather irritating 
> for impaired users (since they might be confused by many 
> expanded short forms)?
> Wouldn't it be a 'discharge' for them to pass on redundant 
> explanations?
> Best regards,
>  Jens.

In my personal opinion, I would advise against using the techniques you
described in your original question (using CSS content-attributes to include
the title in parentheses after the abbreviation). To me this falls in the
same category as inserting the alt-text as content before an image in
auditory stylesheets. That is functionality for a user agent, not an author.

If you just specify the meaning of an abbreviation using the HTML
ABBR-syntax, different user agents can decide differently how to handle
them. Your method might actually cause annoying doubling of content, for
example if the user agent decides to read aloud the title, which is then
followed by the title in parentheses that you added through CSS. 

In the ideal world, future user agents can even have a user preference that
specifies how to handle abbreviations, or even how to handle repeated
abbreviations. If WCAG 2 will be around as long as WCAG 1, we might actually
see some of that before WCAG 3 exists.

Yvette Hoitink
CEO Heritas, Enschede, The Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 2004 09:57:06 UTC

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