strawman HC position on Q tag

1. It is possible to read RFC2070 to mean that user agents must
_ensure the presence_ of quotation marks separating the contents
of a Q element from its context.  It is not necessary to read
RFC2070 to mean that user agents _must insert_ quotation marks
around the Q contents in all cases if the Q contents is already
terminated on both end by matching quotation mark characters.
RFC2070 does not anticipate the development of audio browsing and
quotation characters are clearly not the best styling method to
set quotes off if other prosodic devices can be used (e.g.
changing characteristics of the speaking voice).

2. It can be made clear in the HTML 4 specification that the
normal mode of operation with HTML 4 compliant documents and HTML
4 compliant browser is that the Q content is not delimited by
quotation marks and that the browser applies media- and
language-appropriate styles to distinguish the quoted text from
its context.

3.  Because of the transition from a situation where quotation
marks are mostly not supplied by the browser to a situation where
they mostly are, there is room for positive contribution from
heuristic approaches to handling exceptional cases such as when a
Q element in HTML 4 has content which is started and ended by
quotation marks.

4.  In these exceptional cases, the browser may wish to strip the
pre-existing punctuation in the application of some styles or
adapt what it inserts based on the terminal characters of the Q
content.  This is a styling matter on which it is reasonable for
the HTML specification to remain silent.

5.  The WAI believes that there is an accessibility interest in
minimizing the transitional difficulties in this area and making
the Q element as attractive to authors during the transition as
we can.

6.  The WAI plans to prepare a browser guidelines document
discussing browser behavior in more depth.  We would like to have
room to recommend approaches to smoothing the trasition in Q
behavior in this document.  We believe that if the HTML
specification takes pains to emphasize a hard "MUST" for the
insertion of quotation mark characters, our ability to mitigate
the transition problems will be impaired.

7.  None of the above is a major make-or-break access issue.  If
the HTML 4.0 specification becomes a W3C Recommendation with the
Q element behavior as it now stands (must insert quote
characters) there is very little likelihood that any specific
pages will be rendered totally inaccessible as a result.  On the
other hand, there is a plausible belief that the Web will serve
persons with disabilities less well in an articulable and utterly
unnecessary way.

8.  We suspect that this is the kind of wording change that could
be accomodated in the trasition from Proposed Recommendation to
Recommendation.  The issue does not necessitate immediate
reconsideration if the HTML WG Chair concurs that the range of
changes discussed above is compatible with consideration after
the Proposed Recommendation goes out.  Immediate, fast-track
reconsideration is not thought to be necessary.

Received on Wednesday, 29 October 1997 16:03:18 UTC