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Re: Alert: accessibility and HTML Q element

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 09:35:54 +1100 (AEDT)
To: WAI HC Working Group <w3c-wai-hc@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.971029091533.26353A-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
I have now read some of the messages which Dave has helpfully cited,
though not all of them, due to a local network problem. However, I have
several comments to make.

1. The Q element is important for purposes of accessibility, since it
allows audio and braille styles to control the rendering of quotations.
This functionality can not be achieved if the quotation marks are inserted
directly.

2. In respect of audio user agents, the quotation marks are irrelevant.
Thus, regardless of whether or not it is decided that the HTML 4.0
specification should adhere strictly to RFC 2070, it is obvious that
speech-based user agents will employ changes in voice characteristics
rather than quotation marks to highlight in-line quotations. To that
extent, they constitute an exception to the user agent behaviour mandated
by RFC 2070.

3. In English braille, the conventions concerning quotation marks are
slightly different from those of print. Double quotation marks are used to
denote the outermost level of quotation; inner quotations are indicated by
single quotation marks. This is the inverse of print conventions. Thus,
when formatting a document in braille, it would be preferable that the
insertion of quotation marks be the responsibility of the user agent,
subject to any applicable style sheets.

4. It is the responsibility of the HTML working group to decide whether
the specification should conform to RFC 2070 in requiring the user agent
to introduce the quotation marks. From the standpoint of accessibility,
the most important point is that the Q element be implemented by user
agents and deployed widely by authors in their HTML documents. Whether
compliance with RFC 2070 would constitute a significant obstacle to its
widespread acceptance, and if so whether this justifies a departure from
the RFC requirement, is an issue that is best resolved by the HTML WG in
negotiation with vendors of user agents, authoring tools, etc.

My personal opinion is that by default, user agents should detect whether
quotation marks have already been supplied at the beginning and end of the
quoted passage, and insert them only if they are not already present.

A superfluous set of quotation marks is as undesirable in braille as it is
in print.
Received on Tuesday, 28 October 1997 18:07:36 UTC

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